Moscow officials have banned a gay pride parade scheduled to coincide with the May 16 Eurovision Song Contest finale, reports

City officials called the parade, dubbed Slavic Pride, “a threat to the moral fabric of our society.”

“Not only [does gay visibility] destroy the moral fabric of our society, but it also deliberately provokes unrest and threatens the lives and security of Muscovites and guests of the capital,” said Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's spokesman, Sergei Tsoi. “In the first place, such actions threaten the security of those who wish to participate. All this is absolutely unacceptable.”

Prominent gay activist and chief organizer of Slavic Pride Nikolai Alekseev said he expects at least 100 activists will join him in defying authorities.

“The event will be held under any circumstances,” Alekseev said Thursday. “This right is guaranteed by our constitution. And no official, including the Moscow mayor, has the right to violate it.”

Tensions remain high between gay groups and authorities in Russia after several hostile incidents.

Last June, Moscow's Gay Pride event resembled more a game of cat and mouse as gay activists eluded police and anti-gay foes in two gay demonstrations.

A small group of protesters led by Alekseev held pride flags and banners outside the famed Tchaikovsky music conservatory. They chanted, “No to homophobia,” and, “Tchaikovsky was gay.” A second demonstration was held at a building in front of Moscow City Hall where a banner was hung reading “Rights For Gays and Lesbians – homophobia of mayor Luzhkov to be prosecuted.” The police quickly pulled it down. Hundreds of balloons were set free over Moscow.

Both demonstrations lasted only minutes before police arrived on the scene. The brevity and undisclosed location of the demonstrations allowed activists to elude the police. Police, however, managed to arrest four gay activists upon returning to their apartment. Witnesses at the scene told that the police forced their way into the apartment by breaking down the door. The four members were held in custody overnight and charged with “taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration and for not obeying an order from the police.”

And in October, authorities in St. Petersburg shut down a gay and lesbian film festival as it was set to open by declaring the nightclubs (The Place and Sochi) where the films were to be screened fire hazards, festival organizer Irina Sergeeva told

It's believed that authorities also pressured the state-run Cinema House and a private theater to cancel their commitments to host the event, which pushed the first-ever festival into bars and nightclubs.

State Artist of Russia Nikoli Burlyaev had urged authorities to ban the gay film festival, calling gays “perverts” and “ill.”

Luzhkov has denied gay activists a parade license since 2006, and once called the parade “a satanic act.”

Last year, he shocked the world when just days after World AIDS Day he linked the gay rights movement to the spread of HIV.

We have banned, and will ban, the propaganda of sexual minorities' opinions because they can be one of the factors in the spread of HIV infection,” the mayor said at a December 4, 2008 conference in Moscow titled HIV/AIDS in Developed Countries.

Gay activists have asked Eurovision Song Contest competitors to support gay rights by wearing pride pins on stage.