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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Russian Gay Activists Release Rainbow Balloons

About 100 gay activists, safeguarded by riot police units, rallied in St.Petersburg on Thursday (May 17) to commemorate the International Day of Fighting Homophobia.

Activists said they were also protesting against discrimination of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community's rights by the new law in St Petersburg which outlaws what is called "spreading gay propaganda among minors". Gay and other rights groups say the legislation restricts freedom of expression and is an example of what they see as growing hostility to homosexuality in Russia.

A number of other towns and cities in Russia have adopted a law banning the spreading of anything seen as gay "propaganda" among young people. But the issue only hit the headlines after St Petersburg, Russia's second city, passed the law in March.

A similar bill has been submitted to the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, which could be applied across the country if adopted. European diplomats have said the law lacks clarity and allows too much room for misinterpretation by police.

Activists held signs and balloons in the colors of the rainbow--the universal sign of gay rights, which they released into the air.

Nearby, another religious activist heckled the crowd, and a group of young men in face masks gathered, chanting and clapping, before they were dispersed by police.

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