City Hall Rains on Gay Pride Parade

Gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev lashed out at City Hall on Thursday after Mayor Yury Luzhkov's office assailed his proposal for a gay pride parade during the holidays at the start of May.

Sergei Tsoi, a spokesman for the mayor, accused gay rights activists of trying to spoil the traditional labor-related holidays on Wednesday, Interfax reported. Tsoi said that, if they went ahead with their planned march, there "could be blood, which no one wants."

Alexeyev's announcement on Wednesday that he plans to submit five requests for authorization to hold a parade for each day in May, along with Tsoi's response, appears to open the latest round in what is becoming an annual battle between activists and City Hall over the rights of sexual minorities to hold an open demonstration.

Alexeyev labeled Tsoi's allegations that gays and lesbians wanted to spoil the holiday "outrageous."

"As if gays don't support peace and don't work," said an incredulous Alexeyev. "Don't we pay the taxes that support this government? I don't understand this at all."

A spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office said Tsoi was not in on Thursday and would not be available for comment.

Luzhkov has long been openly hostile the idea of a gay march. In 2006, during a Russian Orthodox Church conference at the Kremlin, he called the gay parade a "satanic event." His office has denied every parade request since 2006.

In April 2007, the Moscow City Court upheld the city's refusal to authorize a gay parade as constitutional.

A 2007 parade led by Alexeyev in defiance of the ban turned violent. Anti-gay protesters attacked British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and singer Richard Fairbrass -- most famous as the leader of the band "Right Said Fred" --as police stood by. Police did manage to detain the pair, as well as European Parliament deputies, Italian MEP Marco Cappato and Volker Beck of Germany along with 27 other people.

Alexeyev insists that his group will hold a parade this month, although the date has yet to be chosen from among the more than 150 applications.

"We are not going to surrender to the illegal decisions being made by Moscow City Hall," he said.