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Sun Mar 01 17:09:30 SAST 2015

Moscow bans gay parade

Sapa-AFP | 17 May, 2011 17:23
Mariela Castro (C), head of Cuba's National Center for Sex Education and daughter of Cuba's President Raul Castro, holds a gay pride flag during the May Day parade at Havana's Revolution Square May 1, 2011.
Image by: STR

Moscow authorities on Tuesday rejected an application to hold a gay pride event in the city centre later this month, citing a risk of public disorder, organisers said.

The organisers said in a statement that they received a letter on Tuesday from Moscow city hall refusing a bid to hold a parade with more than 5,000 activists on May 28 in the Bolotnaya Ploshchad city park.

"Moscow city government considers it is justified in not permitting the announced event to go ahead," the statement cited the letter as saying.

Previous attempts to hold a sanctioned parade have been banned and roughly broken up, but organisers had expressed hopes that it would go ahead under a new city mayor and with backing from the European Court of Human Rights.

Former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, sacked in September, publicly called gay pride events "Satanic." His successor Sergei Sobyanin has made certain concessions, allowing opposition activists to hold authorised demonstrations.

Activists led by long-term organiser Nikolai Alexeyev cited the letter as saying that public gatherings could be banned to keep order, to preserve morality or to protect the rights and freedoms of others.

Moscow authorities said they received letters from officials and members of religious and Cossack groups telling them to ban the event and threatening protests in retaliation.

"In the opinion of many correspondents, holding the event could lead to a wave of protests, which could grow into group violations of public order," it said.

Moscow authorities ignored a ruling by European Court of Human Rights earlier this year that it had illegally banned three gay pride events in 2006-2008, organisers said in the statement.

"The Moscow authorities have stamped on the verdict of the European court."

The activists had applied to hold an event they called "Moscow gay parade: homosexuality in the history of world culture and civilisation."

They said they would go ahead with a peaceful demonstration despite the ban.

In November last year, a small group of around a dozen gay activists held a sanctioned demonstration in Saint Petersburg, which was described as the first of its kind in Russia.

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