A total of 40 people, most of whom are gay rights activists, have been detained in Moscow, after they attempted to hold two demonstrations in Moscow today, demanding the right to hold a gay pride parade in the capital.

About 30 gay rights activists first gathered outside the city council building, when they were met with opponents from the Orthodox Christian community, who began shouting that homosexuality was a sin. Then, the police arrived to break up the protest, before another gay rights group began to protest at the city hall, which included the gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev. The police moved to detain the second group as well, including Mr Alexeyev.

Almost all of the gay rights protestors were detained, though a handful of the Orthodox Christians were also pushed into the police buses, local media reports say.

Galina Kaptur, a local activist, told the Associated Press that the city authorities were treating homosexuality as if it were a contagious disease. “It’s as if they thought that if all left-handed people held a parade, then afterward everyone would become left-handed… This is wrong,” he said.

“I am arrested at Moscow Pride City Hall protest,” Mr Alexeyev tweeted when he was in police custody. “I have no words.”

However, one of the anti-gay protesters, Dmitry Tsarionov, led by holding a sign that read: ‘Moscow is not Sodom.’ He added: “I will not allow perverts to bring the wrath of God onto our city… I want our children to live in a country where a sin that so awfully distorts human nature is not preached in schools.”

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia nearly twenty years ago, but homophobia runs deep through the society. Earlier this month, Mr Alexeyev became the first person to be arrested and fined 5000 rubles under the new so-called ‘anti-propaganda’ law of St Petersburg, which forbids talking about homosexuality among minors.

Russian parliament is now considering extending the anti-propaganda law nationwide. The country also rejected gay rights during a prominent G8 summit, where the leaders affirmed their commitment to human rights at large.