Parades of gay rights demonstrators will take to the streets of Moscow and St Petersburg today, despite a law in the latter, which prohibits the “promotion” of homosexuality.

Described on Facebook as a “Rainbow Mayday”, and a “rainbow column”, advice on the page suggests that, in St Petersburg, demonstrators should join with a sanctioned “democratic march”, which will take start at around 11:30 local time on Wednesday 1 May.

The page notes that there will be a heavy police presence, and that police are aware of the march, but that LGBT rights protesters should not unfurl their flags until the main march is underway, for fear of backlashes, or detention by security staff.

The page goes on to warn that police, and the event organisers, have the right to remove any part of the column, if people do not comply with the rules of the event, and on that note urges that attendees act in an orderly way, but goes on to emphasis a need to “show that we are many”.

It concludes by saying that campaigners should not take detours, or go on marching after the official parade has finished, and says not to travel home alone following the march.

The Moscow page on VK.com, for the LGBT march taking place at 13:30 local time, provides less advice, but has been used by many potential attendees to arrange meetings, in order not to travel to and from the event alone.

The St Petersburg law equates homosexuality with paedophilia and was passed by the city on February 29 of last year – despite more than 270,000 people signing an online petition against the measure.

In January, the Russian State Duma adopted the first reading of a homophobic censorship bill which would impose federal sanctions for the promotion of “gay propaganda”, similar to those passed in several regions of Russia, including St Petersburg. 

In Australia in February, Carl Katter started a campaign urging Melbourne City Council to break off its cultural partnership with St Petersburg over laws banning the “promotion” of gay and trans identities to minors, enacted by the Russian city in February of last year.

Venice and Milan have already cut their ties with St Petersburg over the laws