During an LGBT pride rally on October 12 in St. Petersburg, Russian authorities arrested 67 people after pro- and anti-LGBT demonstrators clashed. According to the Ekho Moskvy radio station, 15 LGBT advocates and 30 anti-LGBT activists were identified and held during the event.
Several anti-LGBT activists showed up before the rally began and blocked LGBT advocates from entering the venue, according to Russian publication Ria Novosti. The conservative activists came from groups like Cossacks, Orthodox protesters, and members of Russian nationalist organizations.
The venue the LGBT advocates chose was the Field of Mars. Originally a war memorial, anti-gay groups saw their venue selection as a desecration to its original purpose.
“The homophobes broke up the action with the help of the police,” LGBT activist Natalia Tsymbalova said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
Over 200 conservatives were present as LGBT advocates demonstrated for International Coming Out Day, according to the Associated Press. Anti-LGBT groups chanted prayers, threw insults and even grabbed rainbow flags away from the activists.
The St. Petersburg city government approved the rally despite Russia’s anti-LGBT law banning pride parades as well as “homosexual propaganda.”
At a previous rally on September 6, no disturbances or arrests occurred.
On June 30, Russia enforced several anti-LGBT laws including the banning all forms of “homosexual propaganda.” According President Putin, the laws were enforced to protect the youth and instill Catholic Orthodox values.
According to a study by the Levada Center, 85 percent of Russians oppose marriage equality, 27 percent believe that homosexuals need treatment, and 5 percent said that gays should be “liquidated.”