Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Russian gays looking for trouble and freedom of expression

St. Petersburg authorities withdrew the previously issued permit to carry out the public action of sexual minorities in the north of the city on July 7. The reason was the discrepancy between the previously agreed format for the event - a rally - and the statements from the organizers in the media about the intention to hold a gay pride parade.

The chairman of the press service of the administration of St. Petersburg Governor, Andrei Kibitov, said that the withdrawal of the permission to hold the public action of gay activists was also connected with numerous complaints from common people. "The Committee on the Rule of Law withdrew the permission to hold the so-called gay pride parade and march in Polyustrovsky Park. Authorities must not only comply with the law, but also listen to citizens. The Government and the governor's office received a huge number of addresses from people, even from other regions, to prevent the holding of this event, " news agencies quoted Kibitov as saying.

Kibitov said that the organizers of the event received the official document about the refusal to hold the action.

Earlier, Yury Gavrikov, a spokesman for the action, stated that the authorities of St. Petersburg and LGBT activists had coordinated the march and the rally in Polyustrovsky Park on Saturday. It was agreed that up to 1,000 people would be participating in the action "for civil rights of sexual minorities". The organizers of the action have not received the permission to hold their event at the Palace, Pioneer, or Senate Squares, as they originally desired. Alternatively, the officials suggested Polyustrovsky Park (formerly the Park of the 50th anniversary of October Revolution).

Gay activists plan to hold their action anyway. Even though the permission for the action on July 7th has been withdrawn, gay activists of St. Petersburg still intend to declare their rights publicly, reports Interfax referring to one of the applicants of the prohibited gay parade, Yury Gavrikov.

"Now we are considering two options. The first choice: to hold the action without coordination in the place where it was planned - in Polyustrovsky Park, or we will hold the rally in any other place that we consider appropriate," said Gavrikov.

He added that the final decision on the venue would be made tomorrow.

However, apart from the refusal to hold the public action, Mr. Gavrokov and another activist received a protocol about the initiation of administrative proceedings against them under the City Administrative Code for the propaganda of homosexuality.

According to Gavrikov, law enforcement officers told him that the organizers of the event in the media distorted the original formulation of coordination of the action. Instead of the meeting against discrimination, they called their event "gay pride or gay pride parade." Gavrikov added that he and his friend would now face a fine of 5000 rubles ($160).

The law that prohibits the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia has been in effect in St. Petersburg for several months already. The maximum possible penalty for violating this law is one million rubles. Well-known LGBT activist Nikolai Alekseev was sentenced to a fine of 5000 rubles in early May. The court found that the one-man picket, which Alekseev organized near the St. Petersburg administration on April 12, was an action to propagandize homosexuality among minors.

Earlier it was reported that singer Madonna intended to support sex minorities in St. Petersburg during her show in the city in August.