Moscow: 40 gay-rights, Orthodox Church activists arrested during protests


Gay rights activists take part in an anti-Putin rally in the central Arbat area in Moscow, on March 10, 2012. The partly seen makeshift poster (R) criticizes some "Russia's homophobic laws."



About 40 people were detained in Moscow on Sunday when Russian Orthodox Church activists threw water and shouted prayers at gay-rights demonstrators at two separate rallies.

According to Reuters, some Orthodox activists attempted to punch protesters, grabbing their rainbow flags and stomping on them in front of TV cameras. The protests took place outside city hall and parliament, and neither was sanctioned by Moscow authorities.

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Prominent gay-rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev is said to be among those arrested near city hall, reported Russia's RIA Novosti.

Demonstrators were said to be protesting the lack of a gay pride parade in the Russian capital and a bill that would ban "homosexual propaganda," according to The Moscow Times.

UPI also reported the rallies was held to observe the anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia in 1993.

According to CNN, similar demonstrations have been held in previous years, but generally haven't involved the police.

Activists have been petitioning the government for a pride parade in Moscow for years, but have always been denied, reported the Associated Press. Former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov has described gay pride parades as "satanic" and current mayor Sergei Sobyanin doesn't approve because he sees gatherings for gay rights as offensive to the religious beliefs of many Russians.