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Russian gay community to contest Moscow parade ban in Strasbourg

MOSCOW, October 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russian gay activists are set to contest in the European Court of Human Rights the decision by authorities to ban a gay pride march in Moscow during the May holidays, the Gay Russia Web site reported.

The Moscow City Court rejected Wednesday the appeal by the gay parade organizers against the decision by the Tverskoy court to accept the ban on holding the event on May 1 and 2 in the Russian capital as legal.

The organizers made a total of 155 applications to hold the gay pride march in Moscow five times on the each day of May holidays. However, all of them were rejected by the Russian authorities.

"The bans on holding 155 May gay parades will be appealed in the near future in the European Court of Human Rights," the organizer of the Moscow gay march, Nikolai Alekseev, said.

The third unsanctioned gay parade took place on Moscow's Tverskaya Ulitsa on June 1, gathering around 200 people, mostly journalists and curious passers-by. Thirteen people were later detained by Moscow police.

Over the past three years, the Moscow city authorities have rejected official applications by gay parade organizers for permission to march, on the grounds that the event would interfere with the rights and everyday lives of ordinary Muscovites.

The Russian gay rights activists have sent to the European Court of Human Rights a total of five appeals against the bans by the Russian authorities on gay parades in May 2006 and May 2007, and three pickets in 2007.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov has branded gay parades "Satanic" and vowed that they would never be permitted in the capital, while the Russian Orthodox Church and various far-right groups have vowed to halt any attempt to hold a march in support of gay rights in Russia.

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