Russian police arrest gay rights activists at St. Petersburg rally


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The Independent Online

Russian police have arrested several gay rights activists and anti-gay rights demonstrators who confronted them at a rally in St. Petersburg.

Saturday’s rally took place in a space designated for public demonstrations but officials said it still violated the law.

The rally was declared illegal under a new law against ‘gay propaganda’, which was passed earlier in June and bans "propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations" to minors.

The federal law makes it illegal to distribute information on gay rights, and heavy fines for those found to be breaking this law.

The law has not yet been signed in by President Vladimir Putin.

Up to 200 anti-gay rights protesters also gathered at the rally, chanting slogans such as “sodomy will not pass,” whilst throwing eggs and rocks at the gay-rights activists. 

The state-run Itar-TASS news agency quoted an unnamed police official as saying police arrested dozens of people, including eight nationalists.

Russia's parliament passed a law banning “gay propaganda” earlier this month. St. Petersburg was one of several cities to pass similar laws at local level before that.

Additional reporting by Associated Press