The planned Baltic Pride march due to take place on Saturday in Riga, Latvia, has been banned by city officials.

The parade had previously been approved but a majority of city council members wrote to executive director Andris Grinbergs, demanding permission to be withdrawn on the grounds that the march was offensive to public decency and posed a threat to public security.

They threatened that if permission was not withdrawn by 4pm today, they would have the decision overruled by a vote in the city council.

The march has been organised by Latvian organisation Mozaika, the Lithuanian Gay League and Estonian Gay Youth.

They plan to contest the decision in court.

Kaspars Zalitis, coordinator of Latvia’s Amnesty International Youth Group, told the Baltic Times that the decision was illegal.

He said: “This is extremely illegal and is based only on hatred. The decision should only be taken if there was extreme danger and the police have assured us they have all the resources in place to protect us.”

The groups had expected 700 people to join the parade.

Amnesty International has also expressed its disappointment at the decision.

Nicola Duckworth, director of the Europe and Central Asia programme at the organisation, said: “This is a disgraceful move by the Riga city council.

“The decision is unlawful under Latvian law and violates the rights of Baltic LGBT people to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

“The council should immediately reverse its decision and allow the march. Amnesty International fully supports the legal challenge by the organisers.”

The European Intergoup on Gay and Lesbian Rights has sent letters to both the president and prime minister of Latvia, reminding the country of its duty under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Intergroup president Michael Cashman MEP wrote: “I urge you to use your authority to not let Latvia be in breach of European human rights liabilities in regard to the Baltic Pride parade scheduled for 16th May.

“But I also urge you to tackle the situation in longer term and employ appropriate policies by your government to diminish homophobia in Latvian society.”