The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities at the Council of Europe has written to the mayor of Moscow asking that he “review” his decision made public last month that he would ban the Gay Pride Parade, scheduled for the end of May in the Russian capital.

In his letter to Mayor Luzhkov, Congress president Giovanni di Stasi says that the Council of Europe “holds dear” all the rights enshrined in the Council’s Convention for the Protection of human rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

“The universal and unalienable nature of these rights can never be in question,” he points out, highlighting Articles 10 and 11 “which permits every citizen’s right to freedom of expression, assemble and association without interference by public authority” and Article 14 which prohibits discrimination on any ground.

“In this respect the Congress, of which I am President, has long sought to improve the lot of minorities and vulnerable groups at local and regional level and promote their full participation in all aspects of civic society as valued and valuable citizens. The Congress was therefore concerned when it was recently brought to its attention that a Gay Pride march – scheduled to take place in Moscow from 24 to 28 May this year – had been banned by the authorities,” Mr di Stasi continues.

“I would be very grateful, Mr Mayor, if you could envisage to review your decision, and convey to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities further information in this respect.” The Congress president goes on to say that the Committee on Social Cohesion is shortly to start work on the subject of the rights of gays and lesbians, with particular emphasis on their right to freedom of assembly and expression.

“Naturally, any input from you which could help to enrich this report would be most welcome,” he concludes. 10 days before the scheduled Moscow Gay Pride, Russia takes over the Presidency of the Council of Europe.

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