Police arrest 58 sexual minority demonstrators in St. Petersburg

Police arrested 58 people during a sexual minority demonstration in St. Petersburg on Saturday, the local police authority said, adding that the detainees included both demonstrators and protesters who tried to break up the sexual minority event.

Earlier, the city administration told the police that it had received complaints from "some individuals" that the demonstrators were breaking the law, "after which [the demonstration] was qualified as illegal and a violation of the law on gay propaganda," the police authority told Interfax.

Activists who refused to leave the demonstration site were detained and taken to police stations, and eight others were arrested for "violations of public order," it said.

The police officers were injured in making arrests. One of them, a traffic police inspector, had gas sprayed into his face.

The sexual minority demonstration brought together several dozen people in Campus Martius, an Interfax reporter said.

They held banners that slammed the recent ban on homosexual propaganda among minors and were chanting, "Homophobia is the disgrace of St. Petersburg!" "Give our civil rights back to us!" and "Down with fascism!"

In a counter-protest a short distance away, between 100 and 150 people were chanting, "Sodomy shall not pass!" and "Shame on the police!"

They hurled eggs, fireworks and smoke pellets at the sexual minority activists, who were cordoned off by police, and all the time tried to break through the cordon. Some were able to get through and assaulted demonstrators.

The sexual minority demonstration lasted about half an hour and dissolved at the demand of the police. In leaving Campus Martius, some of its participants were followed by anti-gay protesters, who were stopped and detained by police.

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