Nearly 20 gay people were arrested at St Petersburg’s Labor Day parade for holding a LGBTI rights protest yesterday (3 May).
Coming Out, a LGBTI rights group active in the city mainly made of young people, unfurled a Pride flag during the workers’ parade.
St Petersburg expressly banned a protest for gay rights, as with all celebrations of LGBTI people, because it would violate the ‘gay propaganda’ law.
This was despite the Russian city’s legislative assembly allowing a Neo-Nazi group, Slavic Power Northwest, to march in the Pride parade. The Neo-Nazis marched under the slogan ‘For the unity of Slavs and the White Race!’
The legislative assembly said the LGBTI community members could march in the parade, as long as ‘no rainbow flags or [LGBTI] banners were used…for the safety of the other marchers.’
They decided to march anyway.
In a disturbing video, police are seen trying to remove rainbow flags and umbrellas from the activists by force. When the activists refuse to comply, they are dragged and pulled towards a police van. A reported 19 people were arrested on various charges including ‘gay propaganda’, ‘resisting arrest’ and ‘hooliganism’.
A 21-year-old gay woman, who asked to not be named, told Gay Star News: ‘It was horrifying. We were just trying to march and get our voices out there. My friends tried to reason with the officers but just kept trying to force us to the ground.
‘I’m now covered with bruises.
‘It’s disgusting that a Neo-Nazi group, who if they had their way would want us put in camps or something, is allowed to march freely. We know which side the police are with now.’
Two of the arrested were Sofia Grozovsky and Lynne Reid, the lesbian couple who used a loophole to marry in March of this year.