Russian LGBT advocates detained during Moscow protests

Published: June 2, 2014

Russian authorities on May 31 detained several people who took part in two LGBT rights demonstrations in Moscow. The Associated Press reported that police arrested two advocates during what the news agency described as an “unsanctioned gay pride demonstration” outside Moscow City Hall. Reuters posted a video to its website that shows a handful of activists driving past the building holding rainbow flags and wearing wigs to honor Conchita Wurst, an Austrian drag queen who won last month’s Eurovision song contest.

Svetlana Zakharova of the Russian LGBT Network told the Washington Blade that another pro-gay demonstration took place in Moscow’s Gorky Park later in the day.

She said authorities began to arrest those who had planned to take part in the protest against a Russian law that bans the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors as they left a nearby subway station. Zakharova told the Blade those who were detained included “a girl with a painted beard.”

Zakharova said the Gorky Park protesters held banners reading “Children need schools and kindergartens, not homophobic laws,” “Knowledge is your shield” and “Knowledge instead of hate propaganda” before the authorities ordered them to leave.

She told the Blade that police detained four protesters.

Zakharova said counter-protesters also attacked LGBT rights advocates and Nikolai Kavkazsky, a prominent Russian human rights activist.

“It is absolutely against the law to detain people participating in the peaceful demonstrations, especially taking into account that the second [demonstration] took place in the so-called ‘Hyde Park,’” said Zakharova, comparing Gorky Park to London’s Hyde Park.

The demonstrations took place nearly a year after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the gay propaganda law.

Russian police last May arrested 30 LGBT advocates who attempted to stage a Pride celebration in Moscow after they violated the city’s ban on gay rights marches. A man punched Nikolai Alekseev, co-founder of Moscow Pride, in the face before authorities took him into custody.

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