Attempts to hold a Pride Parade in Moscow have again been stymied by the authorities and members of the Russian Orthodox Church.
On Sunday, gay rights activists from Gay Russia held a number of separate illegal protests around the capital city in an attempt to evade arrest.
Moscow’s Mayor Yury Luzhkov has repeatedly refused to allow a Pride Parade to take place since 2005, describing gays and lesbians as Satanists and citing security concerns.
Around 30 activists, including Nikolai Alexeyev, chief organiser of Moscow Pride, held a brief protest in front of the Moscow State Conservatory near a statue of famed Russian gay composer Tchaikovsky.
They held up rainbow flags and banners and answered questions from the media before quickly dispersing when a police car arrived.
“We wanted to make this pride different from the last two years. We didn’t want to have any more beatings in the street. We just want to show everyone that we are normal people,” Alexeyev was quoted as saying at the protest by The Moscow Times.
Other campaigners for LGBT rights unfurled a banner from the window of an apartment near the Kremlin and opposite City Hall, on Tverskaya Street; one of the city’s best-known thoroughfares.
The banner read: “Rights for Gays and Lesbians – Homophobia of Mayor Luzhkov should be prosecuted.”
Anti-gay protestors threw rotten eggs at the banner and yelled insults at the activists in the apartment. Neighbours soon pulled down the banner.
Police attempted to enter the apartment to arrest the activists, which led to a stand-off over a number of hours. Police eventually forced open the door around 9 p.m. and arrested four activists, reports UK Gay News.
The four were held overnight and released after appearing in court on Monday. They were ordered to appear in court again next week and are expected to be fined for taking part in an illegal demonstration.
Around 15 anti-gay protesters were also reportedly arrested by police.
Previous attempts at holding Moscow Pride Parades, in defiance of the city’s ban, have resulted in violent skirmishes between LGBT activists and anti-gay protestors.