2006-08-21 09:59:00

Court to hear complaint by gay parade organizers

Moscow, August 21, Interfax - Moscow's Tagansky Court will hear on Tuesday a complaint by gay parade organizers against an official ban, imposed on the May 27 gay parade in downtown Moscow.

The court adjourned the hearings from July 19 at the request of the city's Central Administrative District officials, who said they were busily involved in another litigation matter, although the claimants had insisted on hearings in the defendants' absence.

The organizers of the gay parade, who "applied for an official permit to hold a picket on Moscow's Lubyanskaya Square on May 27 in support of tolerance towards the gay community in Russia and the observance of their rights," were denied permission to stage their action.

The district prefecture argued that, "the picket could spark public resentment, given the requests to ban this public event, laid down in numerous letters from government and parliamentary officials, religious confessions and individual citizens."

The prefecture also expressed fear that the picket might provoke "a wave of protests leading to massive disturbances and breaches of the peace." The freedom of association, set forth in the European Convention on Human Rights, could be restricted to safeguard public peace and to prevent unrest, Moscow officials said.

Dmitry Bartenev, a claimant, said that the district prefecture's decision was illegal. "The prefecture motivated its decision by the letters conveying a negative attitude to the event and by the fact that it was incapable of guaranteeing security to its participants in a city where events involving thousands are held daily. This one would have been attended by not more than several dozen people," Bartenev told Interfax.

The European Court of Human Rights has released many statements to this effect, saying the official claims that no proper security guarantees can be provided are a "violation," Bartenev said.

Moscow's Tverskoy Court had earlier upheld the Moscow authorities' decision to ban the gay parade in Moscow. The organizers appealed with the Moscow City Court. The date of the next hearing has yet to be named.