LGBT Activists, Antigay Protesters Clash in St. Petersburg, Russia

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on October 12 2013 1:03 PM ET

An LGBT rights demonstration in St. Petersburg, Russia, today ended in violence and the arrests of 67 people.

“Several dozen protesters were confronted by about 200 conservative and religious activists,” the Associated Press reports. Fights broke out after the antigay group blocked the LGBT activists’ access to a park with a war memorial, and one woman in the former group tore a rainbow flag out of a pro-gay demonstrator’s hands.

Police broke up the scuffles and detained 67 people, including protesters from both sides. There were apparently no major injuries. The LGBT demonstration was meant to observe National Coming Out Day.

Since the Russian government enacted its nationwide ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships,” based on a local St. Petersburg law, this summer, there have been several incidents of violence against LGBT people. Human rights activists around the world have been concerned about the antigay climate in Russia, especially in light of the Winter Olympics scheduled for Sochi, Russia, in 2014.