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Moscow authorities will continue to ban gay parades to prevent
Moscow authorities will continue to ban gay parades to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, the Russian capital's outspoken mayor said on Thursday.

"We have 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," Yury Luzhkov said at an international HIV/AIDS conference.

"Certain 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," the 72-year-old mayor said.

Luzhkov, who has been Moscow's mayor since 1992, said he was aware that the authorities will be criticized for their stance, but added that "each particular society has its own views."

The Russian mayor also said Thursday that condoms were not a reliable means of protection against HIV and AIDS. "Certain manufacturers state that condoms are reliable protection against AIDS, but modern science has proven this is untrue," he said.

An unsanctioned gay parade took place on Moscow's main Tverskaya Street on June 1, gathering around 200 people, mostly journalists and curious passers-by. Thirteen people were later detained by Moscow police.

Over the past three years, the Moscow city authorities have rejected official applications by organizers seeking permission to hold gay parades, on the grounds that the event would interfere with the rights and everyday lives of ordinary Muscovites.

Russian gay rights activists have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights five times against the decision by the Russian authorities to ban gay marches in May 2006, May 2007, and three pickets in 2007.

Luzhkov has branded gay parades "Satanic" and vowed that they will never be permitted in the capital, while the Russian Orthodox Church and various far-right groups have vowed to halt any attempt to hold a march in support of gay rights in Russia.

The mayor said that Moscow had around 30,000 people registered as HIV infected, while there were thought to be around 400,000 people with the virus throughout Russia. "These are probably understated figures," he said.

Luzhkov's second wife and Russia's richest female, Elena Baturina, recently raised eyebrows in the British media, when it was reported in early November that she had bought a house in London for a staggering $75 million cash.

The residence, Wittanfurst, is the second largest in London after Buckingham Palace and will be used by Baturina, 45, who amassed millions of dollars through her construction company Inteco, to house her art collection.

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