Moscow Pride to go ahead despite ban

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Gay rights campaigners say they will hold Moscow Pride regardless of a ban.

Activists applied to hold the event in Bolotnaya Ploshchad city park on Saturday but Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s administration turned down the request, citing a risk of public disorder.

This is the sixth year in a row that city authorities have banned the event. While campaigners have flouted past bans, some marches ended in violence and allegations of police brutality.

Last October, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that bans on Moscow Pride contravene international human rights laws.

Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev said he had approached other countries for support.

He said: “In past years, foreign diplomats always told us that they cannot express support for Moscow Gay Pride due to the absence of a European Court of Human Rights decision in our favour. This year, we have the European Court ruling on our side, so we hope they will publicly defend out right to march and send observers.”

He said: “The excuses for banning Moscow Gay Pride – given by the deputy mayor of Moscow, Ludmila Shvetsova – include ‘the impossibility to provide security,’ the risk of traffic disruption, the large number of letters received in protest against the Pride events and Russia’s international obligation to protect the rights of children because Gay Pride ‘may impact psychological health and inflict moral damage on children and teenagers who were to become unwilling witnesses of the event.’

“The reasons for banning Moscow Gay Pride this year are exactly the same reasons used in past years – which resulted in the European Court of Human Rights judging that Russia had violated the European Convention on Human Rights,” Mr Alekseev said.

British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is to join this year’s event. He was severely beaten by neo-Nazis at a similar attempt in 2007.

Mr Tatchell said: “I will be marching in solidarity with Russia’s courageous lesbian and gay human rights campaigners. This ban must be challenged. It is an attack on civil liberties, which threatens the rights and freedoms of every Russian person.

“All of us will be at risk of arrest and bashing by the Moscow police, and by neo-Nazi groups who have threatened to attack the parade. We fear what will happen to us but we are determined to defend gay human rights and the right to protest,” Mr Tatchell added.