Arrests made as activists defy gay pride ban

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Over 70 activists have been arrested in Moscow after gay campaigners defied a gay pride ban today.

Moscow’s mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, and a Russian court, had rejected applications for the event claiming it would cause violent protests, but gay campaigners from all over the world converged in the Russian capital this afternoon.

They were met by religious and nationalist protesters chanting anti gay slogans and 1000 riot police aiming to stop demonstrations in the Red Square.

The arrests were made after a group of activists, including event organiser, Nikolay Alexeyev, attempted to lay flowers at a war memorial, equating the struggle for gay rights with fighting fascism.

Eyewitnesses claim gay activists were beaten by protesters, Sebastien Maria told Reuters, “What happened today unfortunately is representative of the non-respect for human rights in Russia. You can’t express your point of view, and you are not protected from extremists.”

A religious protester said: “We are Russians. We are Orthodox. These soldiers died so we could live like Russians, not so these people could come here and tell us what to do.”

A separate gay conference is taking place in the city as well, marking the thirteenth anniversary of the 1993 abolition of Soviet-era laws against male homosexuality.