Gay rights activists in Russia have lodged court appeals after the Moscow municipal authorities banned a series of marches they are planning.

 

Organisers have previously said that they are going to apply for five marches each day in May and then appeal all bans to the courts.

 

Last week the first deputy head of Moscow government security unit Vasily Oleynik banned all the events on security reasons.

 

“The aims of the events mentioned in the notifications provoke negative reaction of the society and conduct of these public events can lead to group violations of public order which creates danger for the security of the participants,” Mr. Oleynik said in a letter to Pride organisers.

 

He referred to to Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights (freedom of assembly), which states that the right to peaceful events can be limited in the interests of public order, to prevent disorder, for the protection of health and morality and protection of the rights and liberties of other people.

 

Currently the organisers of Moscow Pride await other official decisions of Moscow authorities on the marches between May 3 and 11.

All the relevant notifications were sent to Moscow government last week.

 

Appeals against the bans on Moscow Gay Pride marches in May 2006 and May 2007 are currently before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

 

“We will definitely win in this legal battle with Moscow government, it’s just a question of time,” Nikolai Alekseev, one of the Moscow Pride organisers, told PinkNews.co.uk.

 

“The bans of our peaceful public events are unlawful and the court has to take the relevant decisions. 

“We are going to take May bans of our marches through Russian courts and then to Strasbourg if needed.

 

“The gay march in Moscow will take place in May, irrespective of the bans.

 

“This right is guaranteed to us by the Russian Constitution and we intend to use this right.”

 

Moscow’s Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is famously homophobic. He has called gay pride marches “satanic gatherings” and gays “weapons of mass distraction.”

He has now banned Gay Pride marches in the city for three consecutive years.

 

The Russian Interfax news agency has reported that a “source” in Moscow City Hall had said the marches, described by the official as “the gay express”, would have a combined attendance of about 130,000 people.

 

The source said it was highly unlikely that “the gay express” will arrive in Moscow and that the applications for the 25 meetings and marches would most likely be turned down.