The mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz Walz, has surprised observers by giving the go-ahead to the city’s “equality” gay Pride parade on Saturday.

Poland’s government has come under fire in recent years for its blatantly homophobic policies. During the tenure of Lech Kaczynski – currently the country’s President – as Mayor of Warsaw he banned a number of Pride events between 2004 and 2006.

Initial reports had indicated that this year’s event might also be banned after the conservative Catholic Youth Movement called on the city to stop the parade as it would promote “immorality.”

Defending her decision on radio, Mayor Walz pointed to a recent unanimous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights declaring that the ban on a gay Pride march in Warsaw in 2005 was illegal and discriminatory.

Meanwhile, St. Petersburg has followed Moscow as the second Russian city to ban its Pride event this year. City officials have denied permission for the parade which was scheduled for May 26. They claim that there are already too many events taking place in the city centre on that day.

The Russian Orthodox Church has reacted with outrage to the plans to hold the Pride parade, stating that “The Russian Orthodox Church confronts and fights the vicious tendency to present homosexuality as the norm.”

Organisers of the event said that they may hold the parade on the 26th anyway, or could re-apply to hold the event on another day.

Earlier this week, Moscow refused to give pride organisers a permit to hold a parade on May 27. Mayor Yury Luzhkov has previously described the event as “satanic”.

While some Pride events face legal and political battles, Montreal Pride has been cancelled for primarily financial reasons.

Montreal Pride is one of the world’s largest Pride events, the parade attracting around 1.2 million people. According to the organisers, the 2007 event will not go ahead because of the cost of mounting the parade as well as wrangling with community organisations and shop owners in the gay district. There has also been a dispute with the city over the event’s date.

A Pride festival will still go ahead this year, from 1 to 5 August, but without the traditional parade.

Organisers say that they intend to bring back the parade next year. “It’s upsetting, but sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward,” said Jacques Tricot, spokesperson for Célébration de la Fierté LGB2T de Montréal.

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