The Mayor of Moscow has used a Eurovision Song Contest ceremony to warn gay people visiting the city for the event next year that they are not welcome on the streets.
Yuri Luzhkov was receiving a set of symbolic keys from the Mayor of Belgrade, Dragan Dilas, in recognition of Russia’s success at this year’s Eurovision in Serbia.
The winning country usually hosts the contest the following year.
Speaking at a press conference after the ceremony the Mayor, who has banned every gay rights march in Moscow since 2005, gave some advice to gay people coming to the city for Eurovision:
“Entertain yourself, no problem, but not on the streets, squares, marches and demonstrations.
“We never introduced any limitations in their respect except public actions.
“We do not allow gay parades.”
Moscow Pride organisers are confident that after years of bans, the eyes of the world on Russia may mean they can finally march.
Russian and Belarussian activists are planning a Slavic Pride event in Moscow to coincide with the Eurovision final on May 16th. The semi-finals will be held on May 12th and 14th.
“Gay Pride public action during the final of Eurovision will take place in any circumstances,” said Moscow Pride organiser Nicolas Alexeyev.
“We are not going to surrender our right to freedom of assembly and expression because it is given to us not by Mayor Luzhkov but by the Constitution of this country.
“I will be shocked if these words from Moscow’s Mayor do not lead to any reaction from the General Secretary of the Council of Europe and Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.
“I can not believe that officials in Strasbourg will continue to silently accept these and future breaches of the European Convention on the part of Russian officials.
“The time for press releases and statements is over. It is time for effective action.
“The European Convention and its interpretation by the European Court of Human Rights are very clear that we have the right to peaceful assembly.
“Those who do not agree with that should be the ones responsible.”
Mr Alexeyev said he would also push for the EU to ban Mr Luzhkov from travelling to member states.
Speaking at an international conference on HIV/AIDS earlier this month, Mayor Luzhkov said:
“So-called democrats consider that sexual minorities can be the main indicator and main symbol of democracy, but we will in future continue to ban propaganda of the views of sexual minorities.
“Of course, we will be criticised by all democrats in the world but in each society there are own views on that.”
The Mayor implied gays are behind the spread of AIDS in Moscow and said condoms should not be advertised as 100% safe as “contemporary science” proved they are not.
He has previously referred to gay rights marches as “Satanic.”
Activists have tried to have the Mayor prosecuted under Article 149 of the Russian Criminal Code for using his political power to prevent legal public events for the LGBT community in the city.
Moscow Pride organisers have various lawsuits pending at the European Court of Human Rights contesting the legality of the bans.