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Activists: Sanctioned or not, St Petersburg Pride will go on

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – Whether they secure the city's permission or not, activists say they are determined that a Pride march will go ahead as planned in St Petersburg, Russia, on July 7.

Gay Star News reports that queer rights group Ravnopravie has applied to the city for permission to stage St Petersburg's third Pride parade, which organizers are saying could draw about 1,000 participants.

City authorities have rejected previous applications to hold such an event, but organizers say they will ignore authorities' attempts to ban the parade. Earlier this month, gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev was quoted in the Kyiv Post as saying that activists would take to St Petersburg's streets, even if they were not allowed to hold a parade.

Ravnopronie's head, Yury Gavrikov, told Gay Star News, "The authorities are afraid of our visibility in society and it has resulted in the adoption of regional laws banning so-called homosexuality propaganda."

St Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, is among an increasing number of that country's cities passing "gay propaganda" laws meant to gag so-called promotion of homosexuality among minors, and could be used to shut down events like Pride parades and queer rights protests.

However, in May, a St Petersburg court ruled that the city's use of its gay propaganda law to ban queer activists from staging rallies for the March 7 Day of Silence and the May 17 International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia was unlawful. While the judge found there was no authority to deny a public rally under federal law, the ruling does not mean future rallies will be approved by city authorities.

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