Moscow Police Detain 40 as Gays Push for Parade
MOSCOW (AP) - Gay activists tried to stage two demonstrations in Moscow on Sunday to demand the right to hold a gay pride parade in the Russian capital, but they were blocked first by Orthodox Christian opponents and then by police, who detained a total of about 40 people from both sides.
The gay activists first gathered outside the city council building, where a few scuffles occurred as their opponents tried to disrupt the demonstration, decrying homosexuality as a sin. After police broke up that protest, another group tried to stage a second protest at city hall, but once again police moved in and detained participants, including prominent gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev.
The majority of those detained were gay activists, but some of the Christian demonstrators also were pushed into police buses. Police said about 40 people were detained in all.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment remains strong.
Activists have long petitioned the Moscow government for permission to stage such a parade, but have always been denied. Former Mayor Yuri Luzhkov described gay parades as "satanic," while current Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has said he disapproves of gay gatherings because they could offend the religious beliefs of many Russians.