Homophobic Moscow Mayor Yuri Lushkov has once again refused to issue a permit to allow gay Pride to take place in the Russian capital; the third year in a row that he has done so.

Organisers had planned to hold a number of Pride events throughout May and had applied for a permit to do so – this despite the Mayor previously calling Pride marches “satanic.”

However Sergei Tsoi, press secretary to the Mayor of Moscow, told an Interfax reporter this week that, “In the name of the Mayor and Moscow government I am saying that the city government will act decisively and in an uncompromising manner, as in previous years, to stop attempts to conduct [Gay Pride] events.”

The city has consistently refused to issue permits for Pride on the basis that the event could lead to violence between marchers and members of the Orthodox Church and right wing extremists.

Last year, Pride organisers staged an unsanctioned protest against the bans outside the city hall. The protestors were attacked by religious extremists and conservative groups and 20 people were arrested by police – including two European parliamentarians and British activist Peter Tatchell.

Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev claims that the city’s refusal to issue a permit has nothing to do with public safety but reflects the Mayor’s personal homophobia.

“This May we are going to realise our constitutional right to publicly march, despite the bans, which Mr. Tsoi announced. The dates, time and place where we go on the streets of Moscow will be chosen spontaneously,” said Alekseev defiantly.

“We are going to continue our legal fight against the lawlessness of city officials. All bans, and there could be 155 of them by the end of May, will be appealed in Russian courts and then to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.”

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