Authorities in the Russian city of Ivanovo, located around 250 kilometres northeast of Moscow, are shuddering in embarrassment after abruptly backtracking on their decision to allow a march in favour of same-sex marriage to take place.
High profile LGBT rights campaigner Nikolai Alexeyev, the founder of Moscow Pride, posted a letter from the deputy mayor on his VKontakte (Russian social media site) page. According to the letter, the parade and two other public meetings could take place, provided that they move to different locations in the city.
Mr Alexeyev had requested to hold marches in several other cities, including St Petersburg, but was refused by all of them except Ivanovo. This refusal was perhaps unsurprising, given that permission for such parades has rarely been granted since the passive of the so-called “gay propaganda” law In 2013, which bans the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations”.
The man behind the law, high-profile anti-gay MP Vitaly Milonov, quickly appealed to provincial authorities to investigate, because the parade was “bound to break the law”. Mr Milonov even told the RT TV station that he believes the parade’s approval may have been the work of a “gay secret agent” in city hall.
The city authorities were fast to react, with a spokesperson telling the Govorit Moskva radio station that the decision was the result of a “mix up” and that the deputy mayor had overstepped the mark, given that he had “no authority to grant permission”.
Mr Alexeyev has threatened to go to court over the matter, while the (presumably red-faced) deputy mayor is reportedly facing an internal inquiry.