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Conservative Activists Break Up Gay Rally In Russia

posted 17 May 2013, 07:56 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 17 May 2013, 07:57 ]

Conservative protesters disrupt the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia rally in St. Petersburg.

 ST. PETERSBURGRUSSIA (MAY 17, 2013) (REUTERS) -  A rally in support of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia was disrupted by conservative protesters in St. Petersburg on Friday (May 17).

Activists holding rainbow-coloured balloons and signs with slogans such as 'My best friend is gay' gathered in Russia's northern capital city.

"This is a traditional meeting on the international day against homophobia-transphobia. On this day in 1999 the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the list of psychological disorders," rally participant Olga Lenkova said.

The activists were met by conservative protesters, some holding icons, who sang, and chanted slogans such as 'sodomy will be stopped'.

Despite a large police presence, the protest quickly grew tense, with someone throwing a smoking flare into the crowd, and activists arguing, shouting, and pushing each other.

St. Petersburg has passed a law imposing fines for individuals and firms spreading what it calls "propaganda" that could "damage the health, moral and spiritual development" of children.

"Without a doubt, we will demand that law enforcement employees defend us, defend our children who came here with us and stop the propaganda of sodomy, and pedophilia of children," Vitaly Milonov, the law architect said.

The bill, passed last year by lawmakers in Russia's second-largest city, has been denounced as "medieval" by some human rights activists. They fear because it did not spell out what would amount to unlawful propaganda, it might be used to ban gay rights demonstrations.

It is the model for a draft law being discussed by the State DumaRussia's lower house of parliament. The Duma has given initial approval to the bill and it is expected to be passed in May.