Saint Petersburg gay march will go ahead despite threats

24th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Saint Petersburg's gay community will take to the streets Saturday despite threats of violence and resistance from authorities, Gay Pride organisers said Thursday.

"We will hold the march as planned despite the attitude of the local government and threats from fascists," said chief organiser Maria Efremenkova at a news conference.

"We regularly receive homophobic threats on the Internet. The danger is real," she said.

Organisers recommended that participants wear neutral clothing to avoid provocation.

According to Efremenkova, authorities have not yet given formal approval for the march, using a series of "petty excuses" over the itinerary to prevent it.

She said the march would take place in the city centre unless the local government approved the final proposed route.

"We fear a Moscow scenario", said Efremenkova, in reference to the capital's mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who called the marches "the work of the devil" and has banned them for the last five years.

Police in Saint Petersburg have violently dispersed the event on several previous occasions. Participants have complained that police turned a blind eye as they were attacked by groups of youths.

© 2010 AFP

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