A lesbian couple was denied a marriage license in Russia Tuesday, reports The Moscow Times.

The couple, Irina Shepitko, 32, and Irina Fedotova-Fet, 30, were turned away by officials at the Tverskoi branch of the State Registry Office where they requested a marriage license as a pack of foreign reporters looked on.

Prominent gay activists Nikolai Alekseev announced the gay couple would attempt to marry in Russia last week.

Alekseev said he was not surprised by the outcome. “You are now seeing a concrete example of discrimination against sexual minorities in Russia,” Alekseev told journalists. “It's exactly what I expected.”

Tuesday's stunt was just the opening salvo of a hectic week of gay rights protests culminating in a banned Moscow gay pride march on Saturday, Slavic Pride.

Authorities have denied gay activists a parade license since a 2006 event turned violent. This year, Slavic Pride will coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest finale.

Gay activists have asked contestants to support gay and lesbian rights by wearing pride pins during the musical competition.

At least one contestant has threatened to boycott the event should violence occur at Slavic Pride. Dutch singer Gordon, a member of The Toppers, told Radio Netherlands, “If violence is used during the demonstration, I'll fly straight back to the Netherlands.”

Activists say the couple will be flown to Canada, most probably Toronto, to marry.

“Canada and Norway are the only countries which opened same sex marriage to non-residents,” Alekseev said last week. “We initially considered flying the couple to Norway but the procedure is long and fastidious.”

The gay activists hope to exploit a loophole in Russian law that does not ban the recognition of legal gay marriages formed abroad.

“There is a clear loophole in the Russian law that we are going to use,” Alekseev said.