Gay protestors arrested in Moscow | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 16.05.2009
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Gay protestors arrested in Moscow

A banned gay rights demonstration was broken up by Moscow police and at least a dozen protestors were arrested on the eve of the International Day of Anti-Homophobia.

Gay rights activists in Russia

Gay rights activists say that Russia's alleged homophobia is "a disgrace."

Riot police have forcefully broken up an unauthorized march by supporters of gay rights in Moscow, a city now infamous for its crackdowns on gay protests and events.

The banned march was meant to coincide with Saturday's Eurovision pop-music contest, which has a big gay following and is taking place in Moscow for the first time.

Despite the city government's refusal to sanction the march, a small group of protestors assembled near Moscow State University, shouting "Homophobia is the shame of Russia!" and "Equal rights for everyone!".

Among those arrested was one of the country's leading gay rights activists Nikolai Alexeyev. Others were taken into custody after attempting to speak with journalists.

Gay rights activists in Russia

The gay pride protestors were dragged into detention buses

Moscow authorities have repeatedly denied permission for gay pride parades in recent years and events for homosexuals have been met with arrests by police and attacks by right-wing and religious extremists. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov once described a gay rights parade as "satanic".

A day against homophobia

The arrests come as the world prepares to observe the International Day of Anti-Homophobia. Events are planned in at least 50 countries, according to the Quebec organization that first launched a day against homophobia in 2003. May 17 was chosen because it was on this date in 1990 that the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

Parades, lectures and support events are scheduled across Europe. In Berlin a group dedicated to preventing violence against gays is planning to hold its third kiss marathon. Under the motto “Protect Every Kiss,” the Maneo group plans to meet at a memorial to gay victims of the Nazi regime in the Tiergarten park and simply kiss.

"The kiss represents love and affection," Maneo project manager Bastian Finke writes on the group's website.

"We are calling for the kiss to be protected. Because tolerance is our future."

hj/AFP/Reuters/dpa
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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