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Activists detained

June 27, 2010

Several gay rights activists were arrested on Saturday for holding a banned rally outside the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. Protestors had hoped to outwit authorities by only revealing the site at the last minute.

Man with his mouth taped closed with rainbow tape
Gays in Russia are kept from demanding greater rightsImage: rainbow.at

At least five gay rights activists were roughly arrested and taken to a police car in St. Petersburg, Russia after taking part in an unsanctioned rally, according to a police spokesman.

Some 30 protestors had gathered outside the famous Hermitage museum on Palace Square, shouting slogans such as "Equality without compromise," "Homophobia is an illness," "Homophobia - the country's shame" and "Marriage rights without compromises."

Police often violently break up gay rights demonstrations in Russia and activists had kept the location of Saturday's rally a secret until the last minute in an attempt to prevent the arrests. In May, activists in Moscow held the first demonstration undisturbed by arrests and violence in five years.

Organizers said it was only their "military planning" that prevented further arrests at that rally.

According to local media reports, a small group of anti-gay activists also showed up, attempting to attack the protesters. At least four of them were also detained.

Moscow's Mayor Yury Luzhkov has described gay pride parades as "satanic" and gay rights activists have condemned the Russian authorities' refusal to allow gay rights demonstrations.

Author: Holly Fox (AFP/AP/Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler