Russian Riot Police Arrest Over 60 at LGBT "Coming Out" Rally
|Russian Riot Police arrest LGBT activists Saturday in St. Petersburg|
Photo via Sergey Starov Facebook
By Mark Singer | SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia -- Sixty-seven people were arrested Saturday at an LGBT event in St. Petersburg Saturday as anti-gay protesters clashed with LGBT Rights supporter a police official has told LGBTQ Nation.
The event to mark yesterday's National Coming Out Day, an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as LGBT—coming out, had been scheduled by organizers to be held in the city's downtown at the Field of Mars (Marsovo Pole) war memorial at 2 PM.
According to police, the anti-gay activists. which included Russian Orthodox church protesters and members of Russian nationalist organizations, were pre-staged in the area surrounding the Field of Mars and prevented the LGBT activists from approaching the memorial. The clash between the two groups erupted as the anti-gay forces, singing religious songs and shouting anti-gay slurs attempted to prevent the LGBT activists from unfurling Pride flags and posters with LGBT affirming slogans and messages on them.
Russian Riot police then broke the fighting up arresting 15 LGBT activists and 52 anti-gay protesters.
The Field of Mars is an area where demonstrations are allowed without special sanctions.
A similar June protest in St. Petersburg resulted in 50 arrests and numerous LGBT activists being beaten by anti-gay protesters.
Saturday's protest was also aimed at a controversial and vaguely-worded law adopted in June which bans the mention of "non-traditional sexual relationships" to minors, an offense punishable with hefty fines. While the law’s proponents argue it is aimed at protecting children, critics claim the legislation is part of a much wider crackdown on Russia’s LGBT community.
Parliament of Malta to consider same-sex civil unions
VALLETTA, Malta -- Lawmakers in this tiny Mediterranean island nation are scheduled to debate a bill Tuesday that will grant same-sex couples the same benefits legally as civil marriages Maltese Equality Minister Helena Dalli said Monday.
Dalli told reporters that the three-page draft law was based on a 1980's era Danish equivalent that lawmakers and LGBTQ activists claim was a model best suited to be adopted by Maltese lawmakers and be accepted by the public.
"We will make sure that children start understanding the equality of rights and obligations of marriage. This law will necessitate a culture change in government and society," Dalli said.
Malta LGBTQI Equality Rights Movement coordinator Gabi Calleja said the civil unions bill was an important step towards the recognition of gay marriage.
Labour MEP candidate Cyrus Engerer, who headed the consultative council that proposed the law, said that the Bill also covered cohabiting couples. He said that the council did not try to reinvent the wheel. It simply wanted a more equal society.
Minister Dalli also told the Maltese media that she hoped for consensus from the Opposition party and felt that the Prime Minister would support this bill. She said that, as a sign of good faith, the government will on Wednesday also present a Private Member’s Bill, put forward by MP Claudette Buttigieg, against discrimination based on sexual orientation and race.
Dalli said that "laws could be changed with the touch of a pen, however changing a nation’s culture was an altogether different beast," adding that the government would embark on an educational campaign aimed at children and adults alike. She noted that school programmes would have to be reinforced at home and in society, and this would be helped by educational campaigns, including TV and print adverts.