Moscow bans gay pride march: organisers
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
AP photoRussian gay rights activists said Friday Moscow under its new mayor has banned a gay pride march set for May 27, saying that society would react negatively to the event which could be viewed by children.
A city official in charge of security, Vasily Oleinik, told organisers the march would "provoke a negative reaction in society", according to a statement released by the GayRussia group.
The public would see the march as a "provocation, causing moral harm to children and teenagers," the official warned, according to the group.
Organisers of the gay pride, led by Nikolai Alexeyev, had applied for permission to hold a march down a central street with up to 1,000 participants and a rally on Revolution Square next to the Kremlin.
Alexeyev, an outspoken lawyer, wrote on Twitter that the authorities banned the event "even after we were ready to accept any location and guaranteed no obscenity and nudity." He vowed to appeal the decision in a city court on Monday, but said the event would go ahead despite the risk of a crackdown by the authorities.
"Getting ready for clashes on 27 May," he wrote.
It was the seventh refusal in seven years, organisers said. Until last year, long-serving mayor Yury Luzhkov had blocked all requests to hold gay pride events, which he called "Satanic." Organisers went ahead with unsanctioned events which were roughly broken up by riot police and at times attacked by homophobic protesters, with British activist Peter Tatchell injured by thugs in 2007.
The European Court of Human Rights in 2010 criticised the position of the Moscow authorities and ordered them to pay compensation to Alexeyev for discrimination. The appointment of a new mayor, Sergei Sobyanin after Luzhkov's sacking last autumn prompted hopes that he would take a milder stance, but he has also described gay pride events as unacceptable in Moscow.
Russia's second largest city Saint Petersburg caused massive controversy this March by adopting a local law banning the "propaganda" of homosexuality to minors, which it equated with propaganda of paedophilia. This month, Alexeyev became the first convicted of the administrative offence in the city after he held up a placard outside the city offices. He was ordered to pay a fine.