Global gay rights leaders in Moscow
Moscow - Gay rights activists from Russia and
Europe as well the US planned on Saturday to stage an unprecedented rally near
the Kremlin despite a police vow to arrest anyone who shows up.
Moscow - whose former mayor once likened gays
to the devil - has banned gay pride parades for six years running, citing
public discomfort with behaviour that was considered illegal in Soviet times.
"The mayor is defending himself by
pointing to public outrage and requests for another rally by opponents of
sexual perversion on the same day," said Moscow gay rights leader Nikolai
The European Court of Human Rights has
already required Russia to pay Alexeyev damages for banning earlier marches and
Amnesty International called on Moscow authorities on Thursday to change their
Some 120 Russian activists were arrested
during their first attempt to stage a Moscow parade in 2006, and city
authorities warned those who show up at the Kremlin wall to expect no leniency.
"Their illegal and provocative actions
will be immediately stopped in strict accordance with existing law," a
Moscow police spokesperson told the RIA Novosti news agency.
The spokesperson said officers would be out
on the streets in large numbers because the rally coincided with a national
holiday commemorating Russia's border guards - an occasion that has seen
drunken violence in the past.
The activists planned to lay a wreath at the
Kremlin's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 09:00 GMT before gathering outside the
Moscow mayor's office a few blocks down the street.
"Gay rights are human rights, and human
rights are universal," said renowned London human rights campaigner Peter
Tatchell was briefly detained while attending
an unsanctioned Moscow event in 2007. But his fellow international marchers
said their arrest would only prove a point about the state of freedoms in
"Our methods are nonviolent," said
US gay rights activist Dan Choi. "My hope is that this will be the last
(gay) pride (parade) prohibited by this country."