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Lithuania court overturns gay pride parade ban

The Lithuanian Supreme Administration Court ruled Friday that the nation's first gay pride parade may proceed as scheduled, overturning a lower court's decision to ban the parade. The lower court imposed the ban last week citing safety concerns for the participants due to fear of violent protesters. The appeals court held that the government must protect freedom of assembly and expression [AP report] under the European Convention on Human Rights [text] regardless of a group's unpopularity or minority status. The parade is set to take place on Saturday in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. Hundreds of people are expected to participate, and an even larger number of protesters is anticipated.

In 2008, several Russian gay rights activists were arrested [JURIST report] by police in Moscow for holding events commemorating the 1993 law that put an end to government prosecution for homosexual activity in Russia. It was the third consecutive year Moscow Pride [advocacy website] held events around the city to elude officials attempting to enforce a local ban on gay pride parades [JURIST report] that was put in place due to fears of violence. Other celebrations took place at a nearby monument to nineteenth-century Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, widely considered to have been a homosexual. Demonstration organizer Nicolas Alexeyev said the monument was chosen to "pay tribute to a person who was gay himself," but noted that the celebration had to be concealed because of societal disapproval for and "repressive" laws against granting parade permits to gay-rights activists.

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