Saturday, October 12, 2013

Russian Police Arrest 67 at a Gay Rights Protest; Gays, Opponents Detained in St. Petersburg Melee

Police arrested 67 people today (October 12, 2013) after a fight broke out between gay rights activists and their opponents at a demonstration in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, according to the Reuters website.

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 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.

The anti-gay demonstrators included several elderly women who chanted Russian Orthodox prayers. The new law banning homosexual "propaganda" is backed by most Russians, including many Russian Orthodox Christian believers who regard homosexuality as a sin.

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