A gay rights rally ended in violence yesterday in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. 15 activists tried to hold a public demonstration in honor of International Coming Out Day, but were met by about 200 anti-gay protestors.
The Associated Press reports that after a rainbow flag was ripped from the hands of an LGBT activist, the two sides erupted, resulting in 67 arrests.
Russia has been under fire in recent months for its stance against homosexuality, particularly the anti-gay legislation it enacted over the summer; the law essentially criminalizes any expression of nonheterosexual relationships, under the pretext of protecting children.
The irony is that the laws themselves endanger the kids they're meant to protect; with increased hostility towards the LGBT community, kids who identify as gay, or are even suspected of identifying as gay, are in greater danger of being attacked.
With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics nearing, international outcry against Russia's anti-gay laws has been marked.
Human Rights Watch described the legislation as "a profoundly discriminatory and dangerous bill that is bound to worsen homophobia in Russia."
Judging from yesterday's rally, that seems to be an accurate assessment.
Anti-gay protestors in Cossack uniforms form a human chain.
Anti-gay demonstrators held devotional icons while they shouted gay slurs and sang religious songs.
A protestor is taken away by riot police.
Gay rights activists shout back at their opponents.
Anti-gay demonstrators try to prevent gay rights activists from passing into the park.
(All photos: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters)
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