Slavic Gay Pride in St. Petersburg: 14 arrested including 3 Belarusians

27/06/2011
Submitted by Viachaslau Bortnik

After Moscow and Minsk, St. Petersburg was the third city to host the Slavic Gay Pride – a union of LGBT activist from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Previous marches in 2009 and 2010 were banned and participants were arrested by to police.

On June 25, a group of 20 LGBT activists from Russia and Belarus showed up for the action. The organisers warned in advance that because the event was banned, it could lead to police arrests and also to attack from skinheads.

Fourteen activists (including 3 Belarusians) were arrested. They were, unusually, detained for more than 24 hours and spent the night into custody. They were released next afternoon after a judge fined them between 500 to 1,000 Russian roubles (10.50 – 21 euros). But they will have to attend a second court hearing in July to answer charges for "disobeying police orders”, though video footage taken by the media shows no evidence of disobedience.

The unsanctioned gay rally lasted only a couple of minutes. The signal was given when a boat covered with a rainbow flag passed on the Neva river in front of the Statue to Peter the Great which was the meeting point announced at a press conference a day before.

At 2pm, the activists came out around the Statue and started to unveil banners and flags shooting slogans "No to homophobia” and "Equal Rights”. A poster carried by transgender activist Anna Komarova read "Trans Rights are Human Rights”, another one playing over the rumours that the city governor is alcoholic said "Alcoholism is a disease, homosexuality is not”. Another group was protesting nearby on the stairs to the Constitutional Court.

A week ago, an anti-gay demonstration was authorised by the city authorities and participants said they would break up any attempt to hold a gay rally in the city.

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