Russia: Police arrest 60 St. Petersburg gay pride marchers

Arrested pride marchers hold flowers given them by other marchers in St. Petersburg. (Click image for video in Russian of protesters and police)
Arrested pride marchers in St. Petersburg hold flowers given them by other marchers. (Click image for Russian-language video of protesters and police)

Gay Star News, among others, reports:

All the participants in today’s St Petersburg gay pride parade have been arrested and are being detained in police vans.

Some participants were badly beaten by anti-gay protestors.

Nikolai Alekseev, one of Russia’s most prominent LGBT activists who was arrested last month for organizing a gay rights march, confirmed with GSN that around 60 fellow activists and pro-gay supporters are now in police custody. …

[He said that] participants were detained for breaching Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ bill that passed Russia’s upper house in parliament two days ago.

The Russian LGBT Network cited different criminal charges on its Facebook page:

Detained activists were taken to several different police stations. All of them are being charged for disobedience to a lawful police officer’s order and/or violation of the law on public assembly (articles 19.3 and 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences).

Some police stations release activists after having prepared police records and issued summons to court. In others, police officers try to force the detainees to sign records that refer to deeds not committed by activists and not related to today’s action (e.g. banners and statements against Putin). Those who refuse to sign are informed that they will be kept in detention for another 24 hours.

Among the detained activists are two HIV-positive persons, who are in a situation dangerous for their lives as they are left without their medication and the police refuses to release them.

At least part of the detained counter-protesters were released, and some of them are now waiting by the police station building supposedly to attack the pride participants who may be soon released, too.

The police say that repeat offenders under articles 19.3 and 20.2 will be kept in detention until court hearings on Monday.

The office of the Russian LGBT Network, along with multiple other organizations and initiatives, is monitoring the situation and facilitating assistance and help to the detained activists.

The Associated Press reported:

Officials in St. Petersburg deemed that the rally, which took place in a space designated for public demonstrations, violated the law. The statute essentially prohibits public displays of homosexuality, as well as talking about it to children.

About 200 nationalists also gathered at the rally, chanting slogans such as “Sodomy will not pass,” and throwing eggs and rocks at the gay-rights activists, who numbered about 40.

The state-run Itar-TASS news agency quoted an unnamed police official as saying police arrested dozens of people, including eight nationalists.

The official said city authorities banned the rally beforehand for violating the “gay propaganda” law, even though using the space does not require the prior approval of city authorities, unlike other public rallies.

For more information, see the full Gay Star News article “All participants in St Petersburg gay pride arrested for marching” or the full AP article: “Dozens arrested at gay pride rally in Russia.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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