Russian city must allow gay Pride marches, court rules

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Russia’s second-largest city, St Petersburg, must allow gay Pride marches to go ahead, the city court has ruled.

As in the country’s capital, Moscow, St Petersburg authorities have repeatedly banned gay marches and refused to give organisers alternative dates.

Gay campaigners wanted to hold a parade in St Petersburg last June and the city’s refusal to allow it was ruled illegal by the court. Organisers had applied for several different actions around the city in the hope that one would be permitted. The ban on another proposed action was also ruled illegal by the court.

The city court gave city authorities until November 1st to allow gay campaigners to organise an event and the city hall has said it will comply with the order, leading campaigners to believe they could soon hold the city’s first ever legal gay march.

Writing for UK Gay News, Russian gay rights leader Nikolai Alekseev said: “If the City hall respects the decision, it will be an amazing victory.

“We are probably only days before the first public demo ever organised to defend and advocate for the rights of LGBT people in Russia. And this action will have to be protected by the police.”

He added that on Thursday, the Moscow Appeal Court is expected to hold a second hearing on the ban of this year’s Moscow Pride. The European Court of Human Rights is expected to rule on the legality of the ban shortly.

Last week, Mr Alekseev claimed a small victory against Moscow authorities as activists held the first city-sanctioned gay rally which was protected by police.

They held the demonstration shortly after the sacking of homophobic city mayor Yuri Luhzkov, who consistently banned such actions.