The French Foreign Ministry called on Russia on Monday to respect the right to freedom of expression and assembly, two days after gay activists were dispersed in the center of Moscow.
Over 30 people were arrested on Saturday as gay activists and their opponents clashed. City authorities had earlier rejected an application for a gay parade in the center of Moscow, citing complaints from religious groups, ultra-nationalists and the Moscow City Parent Committee.
"After the violence which broke out on May 28 during Moscow's gay parade, France reminds Russia of its adherence to the right to the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly," a statement said.
The ministry also pointed out that the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly ruled illegal Russia's blanket ban on gay pride parades.
Leading Russian Orthodox Church official Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said he welcomed the fact that the gay parade had not been allowed to take place, but expressed concern over reports that several activists had been beaten.
"The will of the majority of the Russian people is set against the public promotion of homosexuality, and I hope the authorities will continue to act on the basis of this, and not foreign pressure," he commented.
Former Moscow mayor, Yury Luzkhov, who was in power for 18 years before being dismissed by President Dmitry Medvedev in September last year, famously described gay pride parades as "satanic."
The capital's gay community had expressed the hope that a parade would be permitted by new Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, but in February he said gay parades were unacceptable in Moscow.
PARIS, May 30 (RIA Novosti)