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Russia police arrest demonstrating gay rights activists

[JURIST] Russian police arrested dozens of demonstrating gay rights [JURIST news archive] activists Sunday, including European lawmakers who wanted to present a letter to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov [MosNews profile], who had rejected a request by gay rights activists to hold a parade to mark the 14th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia [JURIST news archive]. The group of activists encountered violent gay rights opponents, but were arrested by Moscow police for various offenses and for their "protection." Moscow police spokesperson Yevgeny Gildeyev confirmed the arrest of 31 people, most of whom were later released, adding that two Italians were detained for jaywalking and that a German was removed from the crowd to protect him from being beaten. Gildeyev said that no gay rights opponents were arrested. German lawmaker Volker Beck [official website, in German], who was among the arrested, told AP that Russian police had beaten him and other activists and had seized their passports. European Parliament deputy Marco Cappato [official website, in Italian] denied that he had jaywalked, saying that he was "trying to defend a friend from violent people because the police were not doing that."

In April, the Moscow City Court upheld Moscow's ban on gay parades [JURIST report], dismissing an extraordinary appeal by gay rights activists challenging a ruling by a district court. AP has more.

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