The administration of Moscow Mayor
Sergey Sobyanin on Tuesday rejected an application to hold a Gay
Pride event in the city, The
Moscow News reported.
The news stunned gay rights activists
who earlier were led to believe that authorities would allow the May
28 event to proceed for the first time in six years.
But citing a risk to public disorder,
the officials denied the organizer's request to hold the event in the
Bolotnaya Ploshchad city park.
Former Mayor Yury Luzhkov banned such
events and aggressively shut down any unauthorized pro-gay
demonstrations. Before losing September's election, Luzhkov vowed to
“crack down” on gay pride parades, which he called “Satanic
Gay activists challenged the bans in
the European Court of Human Rights. In a decision handed down last
year, the court agreed that such bans were illegal.
Sobyanin earlier said his
administration would respect the rule of law, raising gay activists
expectations that authorities would finally allow a Gay Pride parade
Moscow authorities said they were
reacting to loud protests from religious and Cossack communities.
“We deeply regret the missed
opportunity of the new Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin to break with the
discriminatory policies of his predecessor in this regard,” Paul
LeGendre of Human Rights First said in a statement. “Gay rights
are human rights in Russia, just as they are in the rest of the
world. We call on the Moscow City Hall to reconsider the latest ban
on Moscow Pride in line with the recent European Court of Human
Rights verdict that upheld the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) Russians to organize public events in accordance
to the Russian Constitution.”
Nikolai Alexeyev, head of Moscow Pride,
insisted the event would take place at another venue.