LGBT groups in the Ukraine were prevented from marking the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) last week after a last minute intervention by local religious groups.

The Nikolaev Association for Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals “LiGA,” had planned a programme of peaceful events in the major city to raise awareness of LGBT rights.

The programme, which legally required no formal notification, was scheduled for 16th May. However, on the morning of the 16th organisers where handed a letter by local authorities.

The letter cited opposition from a number of local religious groups, stating:

“The Roman Catholics, Christianity of Evangelist belief, The Seventh Day Adventists, Eparchy of Christianity and Baptist and the Union of Independent Orthodox churches have asked local authorities to forbid any action by representatives of sexual minorities.”

The authorities told organisers that due to the likelihood of friction the programme of events would have to be cancelled.

The organisers and participants chose to obey the request but have informed the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, COC Netherlands, OSCE, UN Human Rights Committee, ILGA-Europe, International HIV/AIDS Alliance in order to highlight what happened.

Gay rights groups have claimed that the move was unlawful and have promised that legal action will be pursued.

Earlier this year a parliamentary committee in the Ukraine recommended that the state took steps to repress “homosexualism, lesbianism, other sexual perversions, which do not correspond to moral principles of the society.”

The Committee’s stance followed letters from MPs claiming that gay and lesbian people threaten national security and contradict the national interest.

Since 1991 Ukraine, formerly part of the Soviet Union, has had an equal age of consent and homosexuality was decriminalised at that time.

However, there are no specific protections for LGBT minorities, and the country is generally dominated by the Orthodox church and is deeply socially conservative.