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Moscow police arrest gay activists

Arrests and violence draw international outrage

Police arrested gay activists in Moscow yesterday as they tried to protest a ban on pride parades in the Russian city.

Anti-gay protesters threw eggs and attacked the activists, while Russian police detained 31 people, reported BBC News.

Among those arrested were British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and two members of European Parliament. Tatchell told Britain’s Sky News that he was kicked and beaten.

“The Moscow police, astonishingly, arrested me and let my attackers walk free,” he said.

Several European mayors deplored the violence and called on Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow, to remove the ban on the parade. Luzhkov has vowed to ban the parade as long as he is in office, and he has previously called the event “satanic.”

Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, called on Luzhkov to remove all charges against Tatchell and other gay activists.

The mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, said the violence against peaceful demonstrators “leaves you speechless.” Paris’ openly gay mayor said Sunday’s attacks were “unacceptable.”

Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, but some rightwing groups and the Russian Orthodox Church oppose the gay rights movement. The Orthodox church released a statement last week that said “gay propaganda ultimately aims at ruining our nation.”