For the third year in a row, Moldovan authorities have banned the gay pride march in the capital of Chisinau.

Moldova is not part of the EU, but is influenced by its neighbour Romania, an EU member state since January 2007.

The small landlocked country of 4m people gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

It and is surrounded on three sides by the Ukraine. The Orthodox church has consolidated its control over Moldovan society since the fall of Communism.

The Pride event was planned as part of the Council of Europe’s “All Different – All Equal” campaign.

The decision comes despite the ruling of the Moldovan Supreme Court last December that a previous ban on the LGBT pride march was illegal.

A government committee banned the march on the grounds that it could pose a public disorder threat, that it would promote sexual propaganda and that it would undermine Moldovan Christian values.

GenderDoc-M, the organisers of the festival which is named “Rainbow over the Nistru – 2007″ say that the rest of the celebrations will go ahead as planned.

The pride events will include cultural and entertainment activities, including an open discussion on religion and homosexuality.

The festival will also stage the premiere of the Vagina Monologues in Moldova, mini-football matches and concerts.

GenderDoc-M have called on the EU to intervene on their behalf and pressure the Moldovan authorities to offer them the right to assembly and free speech.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone issued a statement condemning the Moldovan authorities.

“This is an unacceptable attack on universal human rights in clear defiance of national and international human rights law,” he said.

“It also contravenes a recent decision by the Moldovan Supreme Court, which robustly defends the right of all Moldovan citizens, including LGBT people, to freedom of expression, assembly and peaceful protest.”

Last year, PinkNews.co.uk reported how the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights focused its attention on Moldova and called on the state authorities to stop all actions which are in violation of the fundamental right to assembly.

The Intergroup reminded Moldova that if it considered accession to the European Union a high-level political objective, that human rights would be considered a crucial element of accession negotiations.

Sophie in’t Veld, Vice-President of the Intergroup, explained: “It is our understanding that GenderDoc-M hopes to organise a Pride event [in 2007.]

“It will be our task to try and ensure a delegation is sent to observe and participate in the March as a sign of support for these marches for diversity and equality from members of European Parliament.”