Russian gay activists have spoken of their disappointment that US secretary of state Hillary Clinton did not condemn homophobia on a visit to Moscow.

Clinton, who has expressed solidarity with LGBT activists in recent months, inaugurated a monument to gay poet Walt Whitman with Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has banned gay Pride marches and called homosexuality “satanic”.

Whitman, who died in 1892, is often labelled as gay or bisexual by biographers, although it is not clear if he ever had a relationship with a man. However, he is often linked with gay culture.

Gay groups had hoped Clinton would take the opportunity to mention Russia’s record on gay rights but she did not.

Nikolai Alekseev, the chief organiser of Moscow Pride, commented earlier this week: “Hillary Clinton will have a good chance to publicly express her position on gay rights to one of the top homophobic politicians in Europe.

“I think that no one would understand her silence on the breach of fundamental rights of LGBT people in Russia, the day she inaugurates the monument to a gay poet together with the homophobic mayor of Moscow.”

Yesterday, he told Associated Press he was disappointment by her silence, adding: “Russia is supposed to be a democracy and she said nothing.”

The monument was unveiled in the gardens of the Moscow State University, where around 30 activists, including Alekseev and Peter Tatchell, were arrested by police in May for attempting to stage a gay Pride march.