Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell

Despite threats of violence and arrests, British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will attend Saturday’s Slavic Pride Parade in Moscow.

The Moscow authorities have said the parade, which is set to take place on the day of the Eurovision song contest final, is banned and have threatened “tough measures” against anyone who tries to march.

In addition, there is the likelihood of mob violence against the marchers by neo-Nazis, skinheads, ultra-nationalists and Christian fundamentalists – as happened in previous years.

“I am joining the parade to show my support for the courageous Russian gay campaigners. All year round they risk arrest, imprisonment and queer-bashing attacks. These men and women are absolute heroes. I salute them,” said Tatchell in a statement.

“I don’t have much confidence that the Moscow police will accept our right to protest or that they will protect us against neo-Nazi violence.”

At Moscow Pride in 2007 Tatchell was beaten almost unconscious by right-wing extremists, while the police stood by and then arrested him.

“International solidarity is hugely important. My presence is one way to show that gay people around the world support the right of gay people in Russia to live their lives without homophobic prejudice, ostracism, discrimination and violence,” said Tatchell.

“I appeal to President Medvedev, Prime Minister Putin and Mayor Luzhkov: gay people are no threat to Russian society. Be magnanimous. Uphold democratic rights and freedoms. Allow the Slavic Gay Pride parade.”

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