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RUSSIAN GAYS EXPRESS DISAPPOINTMENT IN CLINTON

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MOSCOW – Russia's leading gay activist said Wednesday that he was disappointed that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with an outspoken foe of gay rights during her two-day trip to Russia and did not decry homophobia in the country.
  • Clinton attended a ceremony unveiling a statue of Walt Whitman at Moscow State University with Russian officials including Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Luzhkov has blocked all attempts to hold gay pride marches in Moscow, once saying they "can be described in no other way than as satanic."
  • Clinton did not mention of the issue during the ceremony. Some biographers have described Whitman as homosexual and U.S. gay activists have claimed him as symbol of their movement.
  • Luzhkov also compared Whitman to "our Alexander Pushkin", but said he was quintessentially American.
  • It was not clear whether Luzhkov was aware of Whitman's status as a gay icon, and sponsors of the statue said they were honoring Whitman strictly for his contributions to literature.
  • Gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev said Wednesday he was disappointed Clinton did not discuss discrimination against gays.
  • Alexeyev had called on Clinton to denounce what he called entrenched and degrading homophobic attitudes in Russia at a news conference Tuesday.
  • A U.S. State Department spokesman said the department was unaware of any request from the Russian gay community.
  • Homosexuality was only decriminalized in Russia in 1993 and homophobic attitudes remain widespread.
Source: AP
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