Gay rights activists Irina Fedotova and Irina Chapitko attempted on Tuesday to obtain a marriage licence from a Moscow registry office, but were denied permission in accordance with Russian law.

“We cannot accept your request,” said Svetlana Potamyshneva, head of the office, adding, “Point 3 of Article 1 of the Family Code of Russia stipulates that the regulation of family relations must adhere to the principle of a voluntary union between a man and a woman”.

Fedotova and Chapitko stood outside of the registry office wearing suits and bow ties, holding a bouquet of flowers and kissing in front of journalists who were invited to the event by gay rights activists. “We are like everyone else and we have the same rights as heterosexuals,” Fedotova said.

The couple, who expected the rejection, are set to marry in Canada where same-sex marriage is allowed. They say that a loophole in Russian law will allow them to be recognised as a married couple if they are married abroad.

The incident was intended to highlight the issue of gay rights in Russia ahead of Slavic Pride, which is set to take place in Moscow this Saturday – despite it being banned and threatened with violence.

“When the Moscow mayor is banning the event and saying that it is Satan’s gathering… after that obviously the level of homophobia grows enormously,” Alexseev said at the unsuccessful wedding.

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