St. Petersburgh Russia’s First "Sanctioned" Gay Rights March Interuppted By Violence And Halted

Anti-gay protesters hurled eggs and shouted insults at participants in Russia’s first state-approved gay rights march, held today in St. Petersburg.

Skinheads, radicals, Orthodox Christians and even elderly women are being accused of attacking about a dozen marchers. The marchers held signs calling for greater tolerance of gays and lesbians and for improved human rights in Russia.  “The fact that this demonstration was authorized is a step forward for us and for all of democratic Russia,” Maria Efremenkova, one of the organizers, told a reporter with AFP.

Police attempted to protect the marchers, who were outnumbered by the counter-protesters. About 100 people converged on 10 gay rights activists, according to radio broadcaster Echo Moskvy. The anti-gay protesters shouted slogans slurring homosexuals and tore up pro-gay posters and banners.

The gay rights march was halted after 40 minutes because of safety concerns.

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