Police in Moscow detained about 40 people Sunday as a result of two pro-gay demonstrations, both met with Orthodox Christian counterprotests.
Gay activists assembled outside the city council building for a demonstration demanding the right to hold a pride parade, and some fights broke out between them and the counterprotesters, the Associated Press reports. After police ordered the crowds to disperse, the gay group tried to hold a second protest at City Hall. Police broke it up and pushed about 40 people into police buses. Most were gay activists, including the well-known advocate Nikolai Alexeyev, but some were from the Christian group.
Moscow authorities have repeatedly denied permission for gay pride parades. Former mayor Yuri Luzhkov called such events “satanic,” and current mayor Sergei Sobyanin has objected to them on the grounds that they would offend many Russians’ religious beliefs.
Alexeyev recently became the first person convicted under St. Petersburg’s new law against “gay propaganda” after he demonstrated at City Hall with a sign reading “Homosexuality is not a perversion.” The law essentially bans any public discussion of homosexuality, including pride parades, and the Russian parliament is considering a similar law that would cover the whole nation.