Gay Rights Activists Arrested in Russia

Published: February 7, 2014

Russian police on Friday arrested several gay rights activists protesting in St. Petersburg and Moscow on the opening day of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

 
In Moscow, police quickly detained 10 gay rights activists who waved rainbow flags Friday on Red Square, according to Russian news reports. Moscow police refused to comment.
 
In St. Petersburg, four activists were detained Friday after unfurling a banner quoting the Olympic Charter’s ban on any form of discrimination. The protesters, who gathered on St. Petersburg’s Vasilyevsky Island, were quickly rounded up by police, according to Natalia Tsymbalova, a local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist.
 
Police there also refused any immediate comment.
 
A Russian law banning gay "propaganda" from reaching minors has drawn strong international criticism and calls for boycott of the Sochi Games from gay activists and others.
 
Russian law also bans any unsanctioned protests and violators may face fines or prison sentences.
 
Human Rights First, a rights watchdog based in New York and Washington D.C., quickly condemned the arrests of Russian LGBT activists.
 
"The most alarming thing is, despite the international attention, the authorities are still bringing more charges under the law and it is being applied on a larger scale," spokesman Shawn Gaylord said in a statement.
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