Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London has called upon his Russian counterpart to allow Moscow’s gay pride event to go ahead.

Mr Livingstone was responding to a statement made by the mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov who said: “all attempts to organise a gay parade, in any form, open or disguised, will be resolutely quashed”.

“I believe that equality for lesbians and gay men is a fundamental human right.” Mr Livingstone told PinkNews.co.uk. “Equality must include the right to hold Gay Pride Parades and other public events, which celebrate the contribution of the lesbian and gay communities to the life of the world’s great cities. That is why I support the Moscow Pride Parade.

“I would urge that any decision to prevent this event taking place should be reversed in the spirit of respect for universal human rights.”

Mr Livingstone came under pressure to make a statement following a letter from the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) urging the mayor to intervene. GALHA’ secretary, George Broadhead, praised Mr Livingstone for his “long-standing support for lesbian and gay rights notably inaugurating the first ever registration of their partnerships – and his enthusiastic support for the London Pride events.”

Last week, Chief Russian Mufti Talgat Tajuddin said gays could be beaten if they go ahead with pride celebrations in the capital: “Muslims’ protests can be even worse than these notorious rallies abroad over the scandalous cartoons.”

Russia’s Chief Rabbi, Berl Lazar, added his support for moves to ban the gay pride event claiming that “sexual perversions” do not have the right to exist. “I would like to assure you, that the parade of homosexuals it is not less offensive to the feelings of believers than any caricatures in newspapers,” Mr Lazar said, linking the pride parade with the current furore over the cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed published in Denmark.

Earlier today, PinkNews.co.uk reported that Russian politicians have spoken out in favour of the mayor of Moscow. Ekaterina Lahova, who chairperson of the Duma’s committee on women, family and youth issues, entered the debate by saying it was not “safe for the state to propagate homosexuality” and the action by the Moscow authorities in banning a gay parade was a “perfectly correct decision”.