The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has released new guidance for gay travellers in Russia, advising that visitors to Moscow should be aware of possible violence at a planned gay pride march this weekend.
Gay rights activists have said they will hold Slavic Pride on Saturday to coincide with the Eurovision Song Contest final, which the Russian capital is hosting.
City officials have warned they will break up any attempts to hold the march. In May 2006, more than 120 people were arrested after campaigners attempted to hold the capital’s first gay rights rally.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was among those who were beaten by rightwing extremists during an attempt to hold a march in 2007.
He said yesterday he would still attend the march to show solidarity with Russian campaigners, despite being beaten almost unconscious and then arrested.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidance states that while homosexuality is legal in Russia, gay couples should be aware that there is still a degree of intolerance towards homosexuality from some sections of the population and should be careful about open displays of affection.
Russian gay rights movement leader Nikolai Alexeyev has said he expects up to 500 people to join the parade despite official threats to close down any march.
He said he asked city authorities for permission to hold the march but added that 100 activists were prepared to disobey officials and risk prosecution by marching anyway.
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has branded gay parades “Satanic” in the past.