Monday, June 29, 2009

Russian gays ready to protest during Obama visit

(MOSCOW, PROTEST, AUTHORITIES, US, OBAMA, RIGHTS, THEIR)


MOSCOW (Reuters) - Gay rights activists in Moscow plan to ignore a ban and rally in favor of same-sex marriages when U.S. President Barack Obama visits next week, one of their leaders said Monday.
In a statement, Nikolai Alexeyev said the Moscow authorities had banned a proposed demonstration outside the U.S. embassy next Tuesday, the second day of Obama`s July 6-8 trip.
"Moscow authorities have again violated the law by denying us the right to freedom of assembly," Alexeyev said in a statement.
"We don`t intend to abandon our plans and in the near future we will determine the format of action on July 7 during the visit of Barack Obama in Russia."
A Moscow municipal spokeswoman confirmed city authorities had turned down a request from gay activists to protest in front of the U.S. embassy on July 7. She said the area had already been booked for another event and that Muscovites were against the gay protest.
Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993 but tolerance is not widespread and Moscow`s authorities often ban protests in support of gay rights.
In May, a lesbian couple failed in their attempt to be officially married and a few days later Russian riot police broke up a gay rights protest on the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final.
(Writing by James Kilner; Reporting by Tatyana Ustinova; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
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