News / Europe

    Clashes, Arrests at Russian Gay Rights Rally

    Gay rights activist shouts during protest, St. Petersburg, Oct. 12, 2013.
    Gay rights activist shouts during protest, St. Petersburg, Oct. 12, 2013.
    Reuters
    Police arrested 67 people after a fight broke out between gay rights activists and their opponents at a demonstration in the Russian city of St Petersburg on Saturday.
     
    Gay rights campaigners in Russia have held several small protests since the adoption of a law in June banning homosexual "propaganda" directed at minors.
     
    Critics say the law curtails homosexuals' rights to free speech and assembly.
     
    The issue has attracted growing international attention ahead of Russia's hosting of the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year. Gay rights activists have called for participants and sponsors to boycott the games in protest at the law.
     
    The disturbance in central St Petersburg began after a group of around 15 gay rights activists tried to hold a demonstration to mark International Coming Out Day.
     
    They were far outnumbered by the anti-gay demonstrators, including several dressed as Cossacks and Orthodox priests, who had occupied the site of the planned demo.
     
    The anti-gay demonstrators included several elderly women who chanted Russian Orthodox prayers.
     
    "The homophobes broke up the action with the help of the police," said Natalia Tsymbalova, one of the organizers of the gay rights demonstration.
     
    Another demonstrator named Maria told Reuters that when a pro-gay demonstrator tried to unfurl a rainbow-colored flag, she was manhandled to the ground and the flag torn from her.
     
    A police representative told Reuters that 67 people had been detained.
     
    They included both gay rights activists and their opponents.
     
    Russia's President Vladimir Putin has denied the new law is aimed at cracking down on homosexuals' rights.
     
    Opinion polls suggest it is backed by a majority of Russians, including many conservative Russian Orthodox believers who regard homosexuality as a sin.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: devon from: louisiana,usa
    October 13, 2013 6:26 PM
    i question the poll,because the rights of a minority should not be tested by the polls of a majority anyway.,, and the bigots use bully tactics that skews the results. this bigot agenda being pushed by the orthodox church in russia are using gay rights to fear the people of russia, fear is a motivator and they know it!!
    In Response

    by: NC2 from: San Francisco
    October 14, 2013 10:32 AM
    we need to do a better job putting global pressure on Russia by targeting those who they will listen to - athletes and Olympic Sponsors.

    by: Bruce from: Michigan, USA
    October 13, 2013 3:02 PM
    I still can't believe we're having the Olympics in this godforsaken country.

    by: rbockman from: Philly
    October 12, 2013 10:46 PM
    bravo Russia

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