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Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov on Thursday announced that the city will continue to ban gay pride parades, saying that the events could contribute to the spread of HIV, RIA Novosti reports. Luzhkov said the city has "banned and will continue to forbid this propaganda by sexual minorities, as they could turn out to be one of the factors in the spread of HIV infections." He added that "[c]ertain homegrown democrats believe that sexual minorities can be a primary indicator and symbol of democracy, but we will forbid the dissemination of these opinions in the future as well." Luzhkov, who has been mayor of Moscow since 1992, said although he is aware that criticism for the decision will be directed at authorities, "each particular society has its own views." RIA Novosti reports that Luzhkov in the past has called gay pride parades "Satanic" and said that they will never be allowed in the city (RIA Novosti, 12/4).
Luzhkov's comments have drawn criticism from Russian gay rights advocates, such as Nikolai Alexeyev, who said the mayor's comments are "contradictory" and that countries can fight HIV/AIDS more effectively if they have prominent communities of men who have sex with men, the AP/Boston Herald reports (AP/Boston Herald, 12/4). Reuters reports that homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but "tolerance is not widespread" (Kilner, Reuters, 12/4). In addition to his comments on gay pride parades, Luzhkov also said that condoms are an
unreliable HIV prevention measure. He said, "Certain manufacturers state that condoms are reliable protection against AIDS, but modern science has proven this is untrue" (RIA Novosti, 12/4).