Activists have vowed to hold a gay pride parade in St Petersburg despite the Russian city's law banning 'homosexual propaganda'.
Yesterday (26 June), LGBT group Ravnopravie (Equality) applied to city authorities to hold the third annual pride event in St Petersburg on 7 July.
Organizers expect 1,000 people to march for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, with possible routes including passing well known landmarks such as the monument to Peter the Great and the Palace Square near the Winter Palace.
However, 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.
A law signed by the governor of St Petersburg in March 2012 officially bans ‘propaganda of homosexuality to minors’, meaning it can be used to gag any public discussion of LGBT issues or events targeted at gay and trans people.
Yury Gavrikov, head of Ravnopravie, said they plan to hold a gay pride rally in the city regardless of whether their application is approved or not.
‘Since 2010 St Petersburg authorities have systematically and purposefully violated the law on public events and freedom of assembly for the LGBT community,’ he said.
‘One of the main goals of the St Petersburg gay pride is to break the vicious practice of lawlessness against LGBT people.
‘The authorities are afraid of our visibility in society and it has resulted in the adoption of regional laws banning so called “homosexual propaganda”.
‘Gay pride in St Petersburg will take place legally or not, we have a right.’