Major cities across Russia are to hold events in support of Russian Week against Homophobia next month, as a reaction to the homophobic attitudes which still prevail within the country.

It has been 15 years since criminal prosecution of male homosexuality was repealed in Russia.

Russian Week against Homophobia is an attempt to attract public attention to the problem of homophobia in Russian society.

It will be held between 25-21 March. It is the successor of similar events conducted in Russia during European Week against Homophobia (EWAHO) in March 2007.

Events are due to be held in Saint-Petersburg, Voronezh, Krasnodar, Omsk, Petrozavodsk, Rostov-na-Donu, Samara, Tumen and Cheylabinsk. There will also be events held in the capital city Moscow, where Mayor Yuri Luzhkov banned two gay pride parades in 2006 and 2007 and seems likely to ban the third pride on 31 May this year.

There will be seminars, panel discussions, meetings, film showings with debates, as well as other events targeted at homophobia elimination in Russian society. In addition, the signature drive for the “Manifest against Homophobia” which was started last year will be continued.

The week is being organised by various LGBT organisations across Russia, including the Russian LGBT Network, Youth Network against Racism and Intolerance (YNRI) and “LaSky” HIV Prevention Campaign.

The organisers of the event said in a statement: “For almost a decade same-sex attraction is no longer considered pathological among mainstream Russian medical specialists. But still Russian society as a whole embodies strong negative attitudes and intolerance towards men and women of homosexual orientation based on prejudice and misinformation. It leads to widespread violation of human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT), as well as to hate crimes – physical violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Low level of sex education is the ground for promoting fear, hatred and extremely fascist ideas by organizations and public figures of particular kind. That’s why homophobia is dangerous not only for LGBT themselves, but for the entire society, where the tendency for suppressing any individuality is being instilled.”