Ukraine: Gay pride march banned after church leaders' protest

City Hall in Odessa, where protests from Church leaders led to a gay pride march being

A gay pride march in the Ukrainian city of Odessa has been banned after protests from Church leaders, though organisers say they will go ahead anyway.

The 'Equality March' was due to take place tomorrow. However, the Odessa City Council backed by the local court ruled against it, arguing that it was a controversial demonstration carrying a "high likelihood of violence" against it. The court said the march "may pose a real danger and a threat to public order in the city, to health and lives of its participants and other citizens and guests of Odessa".

Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Church leaders had protested against the march in a letter to the city's mayor. They stated a traditionalist position of hostility to homosexuality, saying that such events "blur the clear distinction established by God, undermining the foundation of the family and marriage and destroying the biblical family institution".

Their statement said that a society which accepts homosexuality is "doomed to extinction", that it "kills true love and gives rise to hatred", "leads to inevitable degradation" and is responsible for incurable diseases.

It continues: "We understand that the views of the LGBT community are their personal choice. However, promoting and imposing antibiblical and antitraditional views is unacceptable and leads to the destruction of our society."

The organisers of Odessa Pride said that they still intend to march. "If we get a formal court ruling to ban the event, we will file an appeal. If we will be prohibited to hold the demonstration on particular streets, do not worry: Odessa is large. We will not give up. Definitely, the festival will take place!" said spokeswoma Alina Rakhuba.

Homosexual activity in Ukraine is not illegal, but gay people report high levels of discrimination and misunderstanding.