Terry Vanderheyden

STRASBOURG, March 30, 2006 ( – The president of a congress of the Council of Europe has written to Moscow Mayor Yuri Mikhailovich Luzhkov, strongly recommending that he revise his stance and allow a “Gay Pride” parade originally planned for May this year.

President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities at the Council of Europe, Giovanni di Stasi, charges that the ban is a violation of the Council’s Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

“The Congress was . . . concerned when it was recently brought to its attention that a Gay Pride march – scheduled to take place in Moscow from 24 to 28 May this year – had been banned by the authorities,” di Stasi stated in his letter, according to a report. “I would be very grateful, Mr Mayor, if you could envisage to review your decision, and convey to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities further information in this respect.”

The Council of Europe, distinct from the European Union, was formed in 1949 and is representative of 46 countries throughout central and Eastern Europe. Russia is set to take over presidency of the Council in May.

In a letter of congratulations to Luzhkov for banning the parade, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexis II described the position of the Orthodox Church saying, “the Church has invariably supported the institution of the family and condemns untraditional relations, seeing them as a vicious deviation from God-given human nature.”

Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar compared the offence that the proposed parade would have to observant Jews and all religious people in the country as akin to that felt by Muslims over the Prophet Mohammed caricatures depicted in European newspapers. “I would like to assure you, that the parade of homosexuals is not less offensive to the feelings of believers than any caricatures in newspapers,” he said.

The Congress of the Jewish Religious Organizations and Associations in Russia made a statement in support of Mayor Luzhkov’s decision last week. “Such parade is not a demonstration but propagation of a sin,” said the statement by Chairman Rabbi Zinoviy Kogan. “We are in solidarity with the Russian Orthodox Church, not only for the present, but also for the future of our country.”

See related coverage:
  Russian Jewish Leaders Join Orthodox in Supporting Moscow Mayor’s Ban on Gay Pride
  Russia’s Chief Rabbi: Perverse Gay Pride as Bad as Anti-Religious Cartoons
  Patriarch Alexis II: Homosexuality a “Vicious Deviation From God-Given Human Nature”


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