Members of the European Parliament have written to the Mayor of Moscow urging him to respect human rights and allow a gay Pride parade this weekend to go ahead.

Marco Cappato, an Italian MEP and Dutch parliamentarian Sophie In’t Veld’s open letter to Yuri Luzhkov asks him to authorise Sunday’s “March in support for tolerance and respect for the rights and freedoms of homosexual people in Russia.”

Organisers of the Pride event in Moscow have applied to the city for permission to march.

Mayor Luzhkov banned the Moscow Pride event planned for May last year. Gay rights activist defied the ban, despite large numbers of vigilantes, tear gas and riot police.

27th May marks the 14th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Russia and the march is planned to start close to Moscow’s main Post Office at 3pm.

President Putin is being asked to permit a small-scale event in Alexandrovsky Garden next to Kremlin Walls.

Pride organiser Nicolas Alexeyev said he expected an answer from the President early this week.

Reports last week that the Moscow city authorities had already decided to ban this year’s Pride proved to be unfounded and Mr Alexeyev is still awaiting a response.

The MEPs wrote to the Mayor of Moscow:

“Freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom from discrimination are enshrined in international and Russian human rights law, on which democracies and the Rule of Law are based.

“Russian authorities are also bound by the Council of Europe and by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), as well as by the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

“We draw Russian authorities’ attention to the fact that the Court of Strasbourg has recently and unanimously condemned in the case “Baczkowski and others v. Poland” an identical ban imposed by the Mayor of Warsaw on the 2005 Equality March in Poland as contrary to the ECHR, notably of its articles 11 (freedom of association and assembly), 13 (right to an effective remedy) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination).”

This year’s Moscow event on 27th May is widely expected to be banned by the city authorities, though no official decision has been relayed to the organisers.

Last week city authorities in St Petersburg banned a gay parade from taking place.

Organisers said they will defy the ban and go ahead with a parade down the city’s main street, Nevsky Prospekt on May 26th. Around 2,000 people are expected to take part.

Last week Russian pop duo t.A.T.u. released a statement on their official website announcing they want to attend Moscow Pride.