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Russia: Punches fly at Gay Pride parade

Mon 28 May 2007 In: International News

Russian police detained gay protesters calling for the right to hold a Gay Pride parade in central Moscow yesterday while nationalists shouting "death to homosexuals" punched and kicked the demonstrators. Riot police detained the protesters as they tried to present a petition asking Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has called gay marches satanic acts, to lift a ban on the parade. Nationalists and extreme Russian Orthodox believers held icons and denounced homosexuality as "evil" while a group of thick-set young men turned up with surgeon's masks, which they said would protect them from the "gay disease". "We are defending our rights," said a young gay man named Alexey, with blood pouring out of his nose after he was beaten up by a man screaming "homosexuals are perverts" opposite the mayor's office. His attacker was detained. "This is terrible but I am not scared. This is a pretty scary place, a pretty scary country if you are gay. But we won't give up until they allow us our rights," he said. Hundreds of riot police lined Tverskaya street in central Moscow and plain-clothes police mingled with a large number of foreign and Russian journalists. Parade organiser Nikolai Alexeyev said by telephone from a police station that about 20 people had been detained, a figure confirmed by police. "We are sitting in the police station right now. We were detained outside the mayor's office when we tried to present the petition," said Alexeyev. "We believe these perverts should not be allowed to march on the streets of Moscow, the third Rome, a holy city for all Russians," said Igor Miroshnichenko, who said he was an Orthodox believer who had come to support the riot police. "It (homosexuality) is satanic," he said. One man holding a crucifix threatened to beat-up any gay person he saw. Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993 but tolerance is not widespread.     Ref: Reuters (m)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Monday, 28th May 2007 - 12:00pm

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