A range of events planned by the gay and lesbian community in the eastern European nation of Moldova should go ahead this year without interference from the authorities.
For the past three years public events have been banned by authorities in the capital city Chisinau, but a new law should allow the LGBT community to celebrate this week.
Pride will start on Wednesday with a flower-laying ceremony at the Monument to the Victims of Repression and reaches its climax on Sunday with a march in support of the adoption of anti-discrimination laws in Moldova.
Other events include the official Pride opening ceremony, a reception to celebrate the 10th anniversary of LGBT rights group GenderDoc-M, an international conference, Miss Flawless Queen-2008, concerts by Moldovan pop stars and the Pride closing ceremony.
“During three previous consecutive years public authorities were banning marches on various pretexts,” said Pride organisers.
“This year after we applied to the City Hall to inform the authorities about the planned public march within Pride we got the information, which gave us hope.
“The representative of the City Hall informed us that now according to the new law “About Public Marches,” we have right to organise a public march in the format we indicated and for this we do not need permission from the authorities.
“We only need to have with us the document which says that our application is registered at the City Hall. A couple of days in advance we have to call City Hall to confirm our event and to check if it does not coincide with any other events.”
The march will take place on Sunday from 11am till 12pm from the National Library to the Central Square of Chisinau.
This year Pride in Moldova will have guests from Sweden, Canada, Russia, Romania, Netherlands, Belgium, Israel, Ukraine, Belorussia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
In October Moldovan authorities were told to “ensure full respect of the fundamental rights of all minorities, including sexual minorities,” by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
The report of the monitoring committee about the honouring of obligations and commitments by Moldova was adopted by PACE last year.
PACE rapporteurs gave over a large part of their report to violations of the right to freedom of assembly for LGBT people in Moldova.
In particular, the report stated: “We deplore the fact that after a final ruling by the Supreme Court of Moldova the Chisinau authorities continue to violate the law and deprive the representatives of the LGBT community of their right to freedom of assembly.
“Such situation cannot be tolerated in a democratic state governed by the rule of law. We expect the Moldovan authorities to take all necessary measures to put an end to this practice.”
Around 20 activists attempted to march for gay rights in the Moldovan capital Chisinau last May.
People threw eggs at the marchers, and the police stopped them from laying flowers at the Monument to the Victims of Repression.
A government committee had 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.
The decision was despite the ruling of the Moldovan Supreme Court in December 2006 that a previous ban on the LGBT Pride march was illegal.
It was the third year in a row that Moldovan authorities banned the gay Pride march in the capital.
In September the country’s Supreme Court reiterated its previous position that the refusal by the Chisinau City Hall to authorise the march violates Moldovan law on the freedom of assembly, the Moldovan Constitution and the European Convention for Human Rights.
“We do not ask for special rights, but for equal rights,” said Alexei Marcicov, President of Molovan LGBT organisation Genderdoc-M, in response to the PACE resolution.
“Prohibiting public manifestations for LGBT people is an act of direct discrimination, prohibited under international conventions Moldova is a party of.
“It is particularly appalling that the city authorities have neglected by now two decisions in our favour of the Supreme Court, causing us to seek justice in the European Court for Human Rights.”
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 four million people gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The 47-member Council of Europe predates the EU.
It promotes and protects democracy, educational and sporting co-operation and created the European Court of Human Rights.