...He says Moscow Mayor is "a coward" for appeasing homophobes
Sir Ian McKellen has sent a message of support for this Saturday's banned Moscow Gay Pride parade, strongly criticising the Moscow Mayor for not allowing the parade to go ahead (read his statement below).
Mr McKellen emailed his support to Peter Tatchell and the Moscow Gay Pride chief organiser, Nikolai Alekseev. They are in Moscow preparing for Saturday's defiant march by Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The Russians will be joined by international campaigners like Peter Tatchell, who will march alongside them in solidarity.
Ian McKellen's statement of support for Moscow Gay Pride:
"The Mayor of Moscow is a coward. Rather than face the fact that Muscovite gays and lesbians should be valued on a par with their straight peers, he panders to the right wing. He throws them some red meat, some gays, to gnaw on.
"In the 1980s, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once did the same in the United Kingdom, but she was eventually defeated totally by the efforts of gay people, with their families and friends, who joined together to fight injustice.
"I send my heart-felt support for your bravery in marching on 28 May in the land of Tchaikovsky, Diaghilev and Nureyev.
Ian McKellen's statement will be read out by Mr. Tatchell at the Moscow Gay Pride news conference on Friday 27 May in Moscow.
Read Ian McKellen's statement below.
"Gay Russians are very grateful to have the support of Ian McKellen. His criticism of the Moscow Mayor's appeasement of homophobes is spot on. It is a disgrace that the Mayor of a great city like Moscow is suppressing a peaceful Gay Pride parade, which is lawful under the Russian constitution and legal system. The banning of Moscow Gay Pride is even more shocking, given that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the ban is illegal," ssid Mr Tatchell.