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Russia: Orthodox activists attack gay rights ‘kiss’ demo

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — As debate over a Russian bill to ban "propaganda of homosexuality" was delayed indefinitely, Orthodox activists attacked a "gay kissing day" demonstration against the measure outside the State Duma in Moscow Jan 22, The Moscow Times reports.

The delay marks the second time discussion of the bill has been put off.

According to the report, about 30 queer activists gathered on Georgiyevsky Pereulok for the protest, during which kissing same-sex couples posed for photos. But Orthodox activists showed up and began throwing eggs and ketchup at the demonstrators when they started to kiss. The Times notes that a number of reporters were also attacked.

Several Duma lawmakers looked on as the two sides clashed. Orthodox activists reportedly continued to attack gay-rights protesters who were walking away from the Duma, with two of the demonstrators allegedly assaulted inside a metro station. 

The proposed federal bill, introduced by Novosibirsk regional deputies, mirrors a number of anti-gay gag laws that have been enacted in about nine other cities or regions, including St Petersburg. Bucking the national trend, the Duma of the Moscow Region rejected a
similar measure meant to make "non-traditional sexual orientation
propaganda to minors" illegal.

Apart from the Moscow protest, demonstrations against the bill were held in other cities, including St Petersburg, Voronezh, Arkhangelsk, Tomsk, Syktyvkar and Samara, Gay Star News reports.

Watch a Euro News video report of the attack on demonstrators.

Journalist and gay rights activist Elena Kostyuchenko told Euro News that gay propaganda has not been defined, because "there is no gay propaganda."

Consideration of the federal bill was due to take place on Dec 19 but was postponed until this month. It has now been sent back to the preparatory stage.

A Russia Today report quotes the leader of the leftist Fair Russia faction, Sergey Mironov, as saying he was confused by the delay. “We are talking about the ban on propaganda. Do you remember how [the head of the parliamentary committee for family policy] Yelena Mizulina said that she had a feeling that someone was deliberately opposing all bills concerning this subject? Now we postponed it again, and it raises questions."

Russia Today cites a poll conducted last spring that found that 86 percent of Russians are in favour of a gay propaganda ban even as only six percent said they had encountered gay propaganda in their lives.

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