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Gays Vow to Defy Ban on Parade

Gay activists on Thursday vowed to stage a weekend pride parade outside the European Commission's building in central Moscow despite a court ruling upholding a City Hall ban on the gathering Thursday.

The activists will defy the ban to rally on Kadashevskaya Naberezhnaya on Saturday, gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev said at a news conference attended by Chicago Gay Liberation Network activist Andy Thayer, British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and gay German lawmaker Volker Beck.

Organizers had requested that the embassies of several European countries accommodate the event on their grounds but were refused, Alexeyev said.

He criticized the diplomatic missions for selling “human rights for the sake of economic interest,” Interfax reported.

At least 100 Russians, as well as two or three members of the European Parliament and a number of other European and U.S. activists, are expected to participate.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov has called gay pride parades "satanic" and consistently banned them. Gay rallies, held in the city center since 2006, have been routinely attacked by radical Orthodox believers and broken up by police.

The European Court of Human Rights is expected to rule this year on City Hall's bans on gay parades in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia only in 1993, and homophobic attitudes remain widespread.

Last May, more than 30 gay activists, including Tatchell, were arrested for attempting to hold a pride march in the gardens of Moscow State University.

In October, a Russian court threw out a request by a lesbian couple to force a registry office to marry them.

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