15:54 01/ 06/ 2008
MOSCOW, June 1 (RIA Novosti) - Police detained thirteen people at an unauthorized gay parade in the center of Moscow, a spokesman for the Russian capital's interior department said on Sunday.
The gay parade, which took place on Moscow's Tverskaya Street on June 1, gathered around 200 people, mostly journalists and curious passers-by, the spokesman said.
Moscow authorities have rejected official applications by Gay Parade organizers over the past three years for permission to march, on the grounds that it would interfere with the rights and everyday lives of ordinary Muscovites.
Mayor Yury Luzhkov has branded gay parades "Satanic" and vowed that they will never be permitted in the capital, while the Russian Orthodox Church and various far-right groups have sworn to halt any attempt to hold a march in support of gay rights in Russia.
Last year, a Moscow court ruled that a city ban on a Gay Pride Parade was legal. Around 100 protestors subsequently gathered outside City Hall to submit a petition to the mayor against what they called an 'unfounded and illegal prohibition on holding the march in support of sexual minorities in Russia.'
The protest turned violent and police detained 31 people, including two Italian members of the European parliament, in the ensuing skirmish.
Homosexuality was legalized in Russia in 2003, but discrimination against gays and lesbians remains widespread. The hostile crowd during the 2007 May demonstration included people carrying crosses and wearing Orthodox Church dress, along with ultranationalists.
Russia is a member of the Council of Europe, and a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights, which obliges the state to allow demonstrations to be held.