A ruling of the Moldovan Supreme Court and the provisions of the European Human Rights Convention, which Moldova signed, were set aside by Chisinau police who stood to one side and let extremist religious groups, members of the neo-fascist movement, “New Right”, and legionnaires prevent Sunday’s “Gay Pride” from going ahead.

Large, aggressive and well-coordinated groups blocked the bus carrying Gay Pride participants in the capital city. They then forced open the door of the bus before violently trying to break the windows.

According to Pride organisers at GenderDoc-M, the protestors even tried to tamper with the engine. As the thugs were physically attacking the bus, they hurled abuse at those inside.

“Lets get them out and beat them up,” they yelled.

And all the time, the police stood by watching the attack as “passive observers”.

GenderDoc-M, the country’s LGBT non-governmental organisation, had informed local authorities and the Ministry of Internal Affairs as early as April 21 about the route of the march, and requested protection.

The law on freedom of assembly of Moldova guarantees peaceful assembly to everyone, and puts an obligation on the police to guarantee the exercise of the right and the safety of participants.

“The police did not facilitate the exit of pride participants from the bus into the street, did not prevent the rival aggressive groups from intervention, and through their passivity encouraged escalation of violence and the build up of the all-permissive hostile atmosphere,” GenderDoc-M said in a statement.

Independent human rights observers witnessed hate speech, such as “Beat them to death” and “Don’t let them escape”.

Some 60 Gay Pride participants were stuck in the bus for over 45 minutes.

Two unidentified well-built men wearing the signs of the anti-gay groups, forced the doors from both sides of the bus and demanded the destruction of all march materials (banners asking for anti-discrimination law and tolerance, European Union and Moldovan flags and rainbow balloons) as condition for lifting the blockade of the bus.

According to the estimates of independent observers some 200 to 400 people had surrounded the bus.

The core of the crowd were teenagers, some dressed military-style, some wearing black masks and others skinhead-like carrying A4 posters with derogatory homophobic messages and signs.

The outer ring of the crowd was mostly middle-aged men wearing black clothes encouraging the youths. Observers have said that they did not see any uniformed police at the location of what amounted to the ‘hijack’ of the bus by the thugs.

However, some six traffic police cars were seen parked approximately 100 meters away. The occupants of the police cars could not have failed to see what was going on, UK Gay News was told. No attempts were made by the police to disperse the angry crowd.

GenderDoc-M said that they made nine attempts to call the police, but the pleas were ignored.

After destroying all materials as demanded by the thugs, two men ordered the ending of the ‘siege’ and the bus headed to the GenderDoc-M office, followed by a car with members of the crowd.

Gay Pride participants then dispersed in small groups, but ‘on alert’ for possible repeated attack by the angry crowd.

Another crowd of approximately several hundred people surrounded GenderDoc-M office demanding that pride participants exit the office. Two police and one ambulance observed from distance. The office remained blocked for several hours.

In parallel to these events, there were reports that several hundred people of all ages, men and women gathered on the Great National Assembly Square, carrying banners proclaiming “Family is the Union between Man and Woman”, “Homosexuality is a Sin”, “Immorality Ruins Society”, “Moldova – Christian Country”, and “Do Not Turn Sin into Virtue”.

GenderDoc-M has no information whether these groups in the square had their protests authorised.

All remaining activities of Chinisau Gay Pride, including a small meeting, sightseeing in Chisinau and visit to historic places in Moldova, were cancelled due to lack of security.

The new Moldovan Law on Assembly requires a simple notification of local authorities about a meeting. GenderDoc-M submitted to the City Hall on April 21 in accordance with the law.

“On the eve of the march, the Mayor of Chisinau Dorin Chirtoaca issued a ‘disposition’ informing the organisers that the march was banned by the City Hall,” GenderDoc-M said in a statement.

“Such a disposition breaches the law, since only the court could ban the parade. Since the new Mayor, an advocate of the Liberal Party and former staff of a human rights NGO in Moldova, took office, GenderDoc-M remains the only organisation whose public gatherings have been banned,” the statement continued.

UK Gay News attempted to get a statement from the Moldovan police in Chisinau.

Despite language difficulties, a police spokesman said that the “gay manifestation had been banned by the city authorities”.

But when asked about last year’s Moldovan Supreme Court decision and the law saying that the police must protect the right to freedom of assembly – and the safety of those taking part – his English suddenly became non-existent.

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