Moscow Cops Smash Gay Protest

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2009 6:20 PM CDT
A Russian Gay Rights protester is taken away by riot police officers in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 16, 2009.   (AP Photo/Roustem Adagamov)
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(Newser) – Moscow police broke up a gay rights demonstration today and arrested at least 20 protesters, the BBC reports. The activists, marching to draw attention to what they describe as deep prejudice, timed the protest to coincide with a European song contest popular in the gay community. "This shows the Russian people are not free," said British gay rights advocate Peter Tatchell as police dragged him away.

"The way the police violently broke up our peaceful protest is an indication of a drift toward authoritarianism that is affecting all Russians," he said later. Moscow's mayor, who has called gay parades "satanic," allowed an anti-gay march to continue earlier. Anti-gay activists threatened to take action against the gay demonstration if police did not intervene.