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St Petersburg bans gay pride and charges activists for 'propaganda'

Organizers vow to go ahead with gay pride event in Russian city despite ban
St Petersburg governor Georgy Poltavchenko (left) with President Vladimir Putin

Gay pride in St Petersburg has been banned and the organizers charged under the Russian city's anti-gay 'propaganda' law.

Authorities yesterday (5 July) rejected an application by LGBT group Ravnopravie (Equality) to hold the city's third annual pride tomorrow (7 July), despite initially authorizing the event on Tuesday (3 July).

City Hall claimed the decision to ban the march for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights was in response to local media reports that called the event 'gay pride' rather than a 'march and a stationary rally' as described in the application.

After the application was rejected, Yury Gavrikov, head of Ravnopravie, told Chtodelat News that he and another fellow organizer Sergei Volkov were then charged by police officers under the city's so-called 'homosexual propaganda' law which can be used to gag any public discussion of LGBT issues or events targeted at gay and trans people.

Gavrikov says police accused them of distributing information to the media which 'promote[d] the social equality of same-sex relationships and traditional marriage' among minors.

The St Petersburg 'gay gag' bill has fines of up to 1 million roubles ($34,400 €25,000) for organizations and up to 5,000 roubles ($172 €125) for individuals.

Speaking to RIA Novosti, St Petersburg governor Georgy Poltavchenko’s spokesman Andrei Kibitov claimed the public were also against the pride march.

He said: 'A great number of calls and emails have been received not only from St. Petersburg, but from the other Russian cities as well, asking [us] to cancel the gay parade.'

Ravnopravie has vowed to go ahead with the demonstration despite the decision but officials warned that they would be breaking the law if they did.

Applications to hold the parade in the last two years have been rejected, with authorities claiming it could damage buildings, cause road accidents or violated the rights of pedestrians not participating in the rally.

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