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Ban on Moscow’s parade was legal, court rules

Organizers vow to appeal decision

The ban on Moscow’s gay parade in May was legal, ruled one of the city’s district courts Aug 23.

Parade organizer Nikolay Alexeyev says he will continue to fight the ban in court.

“We will appeal the decision of the Tagansky District Court to the Moscow City Court under the current law. The we are going to appeal to the European Court Of Human Rights,” said Alexeyev, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Moscow has struggled to hold gay events in previous years, and the city’s mayor has vowed to never permit gay pride parades as long as he is in office.

This year, anti-gay protestors threw eggs and attacked gay-rights activists who tried to organize a peaceful demonstration.

At the 2006 event “those who spoke in favour of equality rights were thrown to the ground and arrested by police and held in police vans,” says John Fisher, co-director of the gay right’s organization ARC International.

Since 1996, Russia has been a member of the Council Of Europe. All member states are expected to follow the European Convention On Human Rights.

Following this year’s attempted Moscow Pride, the commissioner for human rights at the Council Of Europe said that bans on peaceful demonstrations can only be justified if there is a real danger of disorder. Article 11 of the European rights convention protects the right to “freedom of assembly and association,” and the European court has upheld this right in multiple rulings.

“The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights in a democratic society and belong to all people, not just the majority. A demonstration may annoy or give offence to persons opposed to the ideas or claims expressed, but this cannot be a reason to ban a peaceful gathering,” said the commissioner.

On May 3, the European court also recently ruled that the Polish government violated rights of gay activists by banning the 2005 Warsaw parade.