The organising committee of Moscow Gay Pride officially revealed its plans on Thursday, and confirmed that the event will take place on May 30 and 31. It will be the third attempted Pride in the Russian capital.

A march in central Moscow, in support of tolerance and respect for the rights and freedoms of homosexual people in Russia, is set for Saturday May 31. The march will act as a finale to the two-day event, which will feature an international human rights conference, with Russian and foreign politicians and activists participating.

Plans to stage marches in the previous two Gay Prides have been scuppered by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Organisers say that internal sources of the Interfax news agency within Moscow City Hall are hinting that the mayor is unlikely to change his opinion of the Gay Pride – and will again ban it.

“Each year, our movement is getting bigger, and not only in terms of organisers but also in terms of participants,” said Moscow Pride president Nikolai Alekseev, who last weekend received a “hero” award in Los Angeles during the International Mr. Gay finals for his attempts to stage Pride events in Moscow. He has been arrested during both previous Prides.

“When Moscow Pride was started there were only three of us. The second Pride was organised by seven people – while this year the organising committee has been increased to ten. It is a diverse group of men and women, homosexual and heterosexual.”

Mr. Alekseev said that “notification concerning the march will be sent to Moscow’s Mayor in accordance with Russian legislation two weeks before the event.

“The authorities have no legal basis for banning the event,” he continued. “That is why, even if they ban it again, we will still go on the streets to realise our constitutional right to freedom of assembly.”

He said that the paperwork for the application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over last year’s ban of the Gay Pride march should be completed in early February for delivery to the court. The matter of the ban on the first march, on May 27, 2006, is already in Strasbourg and is awaiting consideration.

Previously, the Moscow authorities have rejected requests to stage marches on the grounds that it would interfere with the rights and routines of ordinary Muscovites.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has branded gay pride parades as “Satanic” and vowed that they would never be permitted in the capital while he was in office. The Russian Orthodox Church and a number of far-right groups have sworn to halt any attempt to hold any march in support of gay rights in Russia.

Last year, Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court ruled that a city ban on holding a Gay Pride Parade was legal. Around 100 protestors subsequently gathered outside City Hall to submit a petition to the mayor against what they called an “unfounded and illegal prohibition on holding the march in support of sexual minorities in Russia.”

The protest turned violent when British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell was kicked and beaten by extremists. Police detained 31 people, including two Italian members of the European Parliament, in the ensuing melee.

The hostile crowd at last year’s demonstration against Gay Pride included people carrying crosses and wearing Orthodox Church dress, along with ultra-nationalists.

Russia is a member of the Council of Europe, and a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights, which obliges the state to allow demonstrations to be held.

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