Authorities urged to allow Russian gay Pride march

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LGBT activists in St. Petersburg, Russia. - PHOTO: Amnesty International

Amnesty International is urging authorities in St. Petersburg, Russia, to allow a gay Pride march to take place July 7.

The event had been authorized, but then authorities rescinded their agreement, according to a report from Amnesty International.

The agreement had been for Pride to take place at Poliustrov Park on the city’s outskirts, but on July 5 authorities backtracked. They said there were numerous complaints against the plan.

“It is time for St. Petersburg to portray itself as a global city where tolerance and respect for human rights are held high and where there is no place for discrimination,” said Sergei Nikitin, the director of the Moscow office of Amnesty International.

Over the last two years, a local LGBT group called NGO Ravnopravie (equality) has submitted repeated applications for Pride in St. Petersburg. And different courts in St. Petersburg have ruled against the authorities’ repeated refusal to let Pride proceed.

Nikitin said the situation “paints the St. Petersburg authorities in a very negative light, as they are flouting their international obligations to protect the basic human rights of all city residents.”

He pointed to passage this spring of a law banning “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderness among minors” in the city and the recent arrest of LGBT rights activist Nikolai Alekseyev for holding aloft a banner that read, “Homosexuality is not a perversity, perverse is hockey on grass and ballet on ice.”

Amnesty said since the adoption of the law, thousands of people all around the world, including some 30,000 Amnesty International activists, have written to St. Petersburg authorities.

Also, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has called on Russia to explain how the government can uphold its obligations under human rights law with the St. Petersburg law being enforced.

“This is a moment of truth for St. Petersburg city authorities – by allowing this weekend’s Pride to go ahead peacefully, they have a chance to show that they do respect human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, and that they do not discriminate against any members of society,” Nikitin said.

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