Gay rights activists have warned there could be violence on the streets of the Russian capital Moscow on Saturday as the city stages the Eurovision Song Contest final.
Irina Shipitko (l) and Irina Fedotova’s marriage attempt was rejected
The competition traditionally has a large gay following and Russian activists are trying to hold the country’s first ever gay pride march while thousands of Eurovision fans are in Moscow.
But the city council has refused to give official permission for the march, while allowing hardcore nationalists and religious groups to stage a counter-demonstration on the same day.
Gay activists have come under attack from such groups in the past.
“We will still go ahead”, says Nikolai Alekseev, leader of Russia’s gay rights movement.
“There will be outrage around the world… if on the 16 May people are being arrested and beaten on the streets of Moscow hours before the Eurovision Song Contest final.
“It will be a disgrace for Russia.”
See Violence feared over Moscow gay march BBC News