The Council of Europe has called on the mayor of Moscow to reinstate the city’s gay pride parade.

President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities at the Council, Giovanni di Stasi asked Yuri Luzhkov to “review,” his policy and allow the gay community to march in Russia in May as it is an entitlement according to human rights conventions of free expression and protection from discrimination.

He said in a letter to the mayor, “The universal and unalienable nature of these rights can never be in question, in this respect the Congress, of which I am President, has long sought to improve the lot of minorities and vulnerable groups at local and regional level and promote their full participation in all aspects of civic society as valued and valuable citizens.

“The Congress was therefore concerned when it was recently brought to its attention that a Gay Pride march, scheduled to take place in Moscow from 24 to 28 May this year, had been banned by the authorities.

“I would be very grateful, Mr Mayor, if you could envisage to review your decision, and convey to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities further information in this respect.”

The mayor’s spokesman, Sergey Tsoy, has previously insisted that the city would never consider allowing a parade, “The Moscow government is not even going to consider allowing a gay parade.” He claimed that the proposed event has “evoked outrage in society, in particular among religious leaders.”

Mr Tsoy said the mayor “was firm that the city government will not allow a gay parade in any form, open or disguised, and any attempts to organize an unsanctioned action will be resolutely quashed.”

The Council of Europe, the continent’s oldest political institution, promotes human rights and democracy, it is separate to the European Union and was established in 1949.

Russia takes presidency of the Council 10 days before the parade is due.