Despite banning Moscow Gay Pride last year, the Russian government has sent out a message of commitment to the rights of sexual minorities.

In its capacity as current Chairman of the Committee of Ministers for the Council of Europe, the Russian Federation has stated that sexual minorities do have the right to freedom of expression and assembly, according to RainbowNetwork.com.

Admitting that Moscow Gay Pride was banned, the Federation reiterated that peaceful demonstrations in support of gay rights must be allowed to take place and can only be stopped when there is a danger of disorder which cannot be prevented by reasonable force.

They added that the police have a duty to protect such demonstrations when they take place.

Patricia Prendiville, the executive director of ILGA-Europe, the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, welcomed Russia’s statement.

“The strength of the statement, coming with the agreement of the 46 member states, is important for many countries, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, where LGBT freedom of assembly has been challenged on many occasions,” she said.

Maxim Anmeghichean, ILGA’s programme director, stressed the need to follow up Russia’s rhetoric with action.

“What really matters is whether they take concrete actions, ensuring freedom of assembly, responding to acts of violence, and promoting awareness of the rights of the LGBT community,” he said.