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Police just detained dozens of LGBT activists in Russia

Josh Jackman August 4, 2018

Policemen detain an LGBT activist in 2017 (MAXIM ZMEYEV/AFP/Getty)

Police have detained around 30 LGBT activists in St Petersburg.

A total of about 60 campaigners assembled in Palace Square after their request for a Pride parade was turned down by local authorities.

The incident appears to confirm fears voiced by LGBT people in Russia during this summer’s World Cup that the relaxed policing towards the community would end after the competition, which finished on July 15.

St. Petersburg Pride
LGBT protests are always difficult to organise in Russia without an official backlash (rainbow.spb/Instagram)

Hate crimes against LGBT people have doubled since Russia created a law in 2013 which prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” towards minors.

The legislation has been used to justify a broad range of punitive actions against LGBT people.

Police moved on any of today’s (August 4) St Petersburg protesters who held rainbow flags or placards.

People wave gay rights' movement rainbow flags during the gay pride rally in Saint Petersburg, on Agust 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
LGBT rights protesters face off in St Petersburg (OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)

They were forced onto a police bus, but there were no clashes between officers and activists, according to Reuters.

Aleksei Nazarov, who helped to organise the rally, told AFP that “in total, 30 people were arrested,” adding that he himself had been held in a police vehicle with one other protester.

“Everyone else has been taken to a police station,” he explained.

People wave gay rights' movement rainbow flags during the gay pride rally in Saint Petersburg, on August 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
An LGBT pride rally in St Petersburg (OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty)

Despite the increase in hate crimes in Russia – including the state-led gay purge in Chechnya – authorities have consistently moved to deny any issue with LGBT people.

In June, Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Ambassador to the UK, denied the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya – with part of his explanation relying on the face that President Vladimir Putin has met Sir Elton John.

He reportedly said he could not be sure that gay people existed in Chechnya, that Russia is a safe place for LGBT people and that Elton John had met President Putin – so homophobia did not exist in Russia.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko addresses journalists at a news conference in central London on April 20, 2018. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty)

He added that if LGBT people didn’t like living in Russia they could move to a different country where there are more LGBT people, which was reminiscent of Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s comments last July, when he said: “We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.”

He added: “Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.

“They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people.”

The leader has called gay people “devils” (ramzan kadyrov/Instagram)

A couple of months before those remarks, Kadyrov claimed that his region had “never had” gay men in it, just “fake” Chechens.

LGBT activist Peter Tatchell was arrested in Russia in June for carrying out a protest at the World Cup.

Tatchell was arrested in Moscow after staging a protest about homophobic crackdowns in Russia.

British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell stages an anti-Putin protest against the mistreatment of LGBT people in Russia (MAXIM ZMEYEV/AFP/Getty)
Peter Tatchell’s anti-Putin protest (MAXIM ZMEYEV/AFP/Getty)

The UK-based activist was holding a placard that accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “failing to act against Chechnya torture of gay people” when he was arrested for breaching anti-protest laws put in place for the World Cup.

gay football fan was viciously attacked in St Petersburg before the World Cup, suffering brain injuries during the horrific incident.

More: detained, Europe, LGBT, police, Pride, protest, Russia, Russia, St Petersburg

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