Russia may permit first gay march 500km from Moscow

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Gay rights activists in Russia have managed to secure permission to hold a picket against a homophobic politician in the city of Tambov.

City authorities approved the protest yesterday, the first time a gay public event has been authorised in Russia.

Tambov, 500km from Moscow, is also considering an application from gay campaigners Nicolas Alexeyev and Anna Komarova for a Pride march in the city later this month.

The picket against homphobia, to held on Friday, is in protest against the regional governor Oleg Betin.

In May, he declared in an interview: “Tolerance?! To hell! Faggots should be torn apart. And their pieces should be thrown in the wind.”

The same month, the organisers of the Moscow Gay Pride asked for a criminal investigation against Mr Betin.

The activists filled a complaint with the local court after the prosecutors declined to initiate a criminal investigation.

A judge of the Lenin district court of Tambov dismissed their complain earlier this week on procedural basis.

Mr Alexeyev said:

“The governor of Tambov region expressed insults towards homosexual people. We want him to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Our planned picket will be another opportunity for the discussion of these homophobic expressions.”

The second event, planned for October 18th, is a march for tolerance and respect for the rights and freedoms of homosexual people in Russia.

City authorities are considering the request.

All similar actions in Moscow and Saint Petersburg have always been rejected by the local authorities.

The Mayor of Moscow has severely suppressed the last three attempts in 2006, 2007 and 2008 to hold  Pride.

Five applications against Pride bans are awaiting consideration in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

“If the Mayor of Tambov allows the Gay Pride we plan in his city on October 18th, it will set an important precedent for all of us in Russia,” said Mr Alexeyev.