The Secretary General of the Council of Europe condemned recent violence against gays and lesbians in Moscow today.

Gay people are being increasingly persecuted in Russia with the recent gay pride ban and attacks on Moscow gay clubs.

Last week police were forced to intervene when 100 skinheads, nationalists and Christian fundamentalists hurled eggs and bottles at a gay club in Moscow.

Secretary General, Terry Davis, said: “I strongly condemn the recent violent incidents against gays and lesbians in Moscow, and I call on the authorities to investigate these attacks and prosecute the people responsible for them, and prevent any such violence in the future.

“This is particularly important in view of the series of events currently being organised by the Russian gay and lesbian community to raise awareness about the difficult situation in which they live. They are entitled to call for full and unequivocal respect

for their basic rights and freedoms.

“The violent homophobic protests in recent weeks were neither isolated nor spontaneous. They have taken place against the background of a sustained campaign against the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. It is regrettable that several people who should normally be the first to speak out against such blatant injustice, have decided instead to endorse and actively support homophobic ideas.”

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.