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Moscow official
nixes gay rights parade

Moscow official
nixes gay rights parade

A top Moscow official repeated Wednesday that the city will not allow a gay rights parade, echoing the mayor's vocal criticism and saying that homosexuality is bad for people's health, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported.

''There is the hard line of the city authorities and the position of our main faith, the Russian Orthodox Church...of the inadmissibility of such an event in Moscow,'' RIA-Novosti quoted the head of the city's international relations department, Georgy Muradov, as saying.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and city authorities barred gay rights activists from staging a parade last year, citing the threat of violence, but activists ignored the ban and were attacked by right-wing protesters and detained by police. Last month Luzhkov vowed never to allow a gay rights parade, calling such events ''satanic.''

Russian gay activists pledged to hold a march in May.

London mayor Ken Livingstone said last month that he strongly opposed a ban, and RIA-Novosti quoted Muradov as saying Luzhkov expects to face criticism over the issue at a February 27-28 meeting with the mayors of London, Paris, and Berlin.

In an attack on what he said was criticism from the Swedish ambassador, Muradov equated homosexuality with alcoholism and drew a comparison meant to suggest the ban was intended to protect the heath and well-being of society.

''As you know, the sale of alcohol is restricted in many Scandinavian countries. Why not pose the question of removing the limits on alcohol in these countries, of holding a 'parade of alcoholics' in Sweden? They would answer, No, it's bad for one's health, it affects society's morals,'' RIA-Novosti quoted him as saying.

Muradov said he had ''medical proof'' that ''this form of relations'' is harmful to health, the agency reported. (AP)

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