The Mayor of London has condemned the violence and religious and nationalist protests that marred gay pride celebrations in Moscow last weekend.

Gay activists who chose to defy a gay pride ban in the Russian capital were met with violence from religious and nationalist protesters chanting anti gay slogans and 1000 riot police aiming to stop demonstrations in the Red Square.

Ken Livingstone said: ‘The Russian people suffered greater casualties than any other country from Nazism – whose targets were not only Jews and Soviet citizens but also homosexuals. To see open fascists and Nazis parading in Moscow, and assaulting gay and lesbian people, is to trample on the memory of all those who fought against Nazism and particularly the 27 million Soviet citizens who died in the fight against fascism.

“The support given by the Russian Orthodox Church, the Grand Mufti, and the Chief Rabbi to a ban on a peaceful gay pride march is reactionary and the Mayor of Moscow should uphold the right of gays and lesbians to demonstrate peacefully.

“I strongly oppose the positions of both the Mayor of Moscow and the former Mayor of Warsaw, now the president of Poland, in banning gay rights marches and the support to this given by a number of religious authorities. I strongly endorse the European Parliament resolution of 18 January 2006 calling on all to “firmly to condemn and oppose homophobic hate speech or incitement to hatred and violence” and to treat lesbian and gay people with “respect, dignity and protection.”

The Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov banned the gay parade claiming it would protect gays and lesbians from potential violent protests

A statement from the Mayor’s office said: “This march could provoke a wave of protests which could lead to mass breaches of public order and disturbances, therefore the application for the march has not been successful.”