Russian anti-gay protests turn violent

MOSCOW, June 11 (UPI) -- Pro- and anti-gay protesters clashed outside Russia's parliament Tuesday as lawmakers debated bills that would criminalize promoting homosexual relationships.

About 300 people gathered outside the Russian Duma in spontaneous protests over the bills, one of which would make it a crime punishable by a possible 90 days in jail for "the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships" among minors or by using mass media or the Internet.


Another bill would criminalize "insulting religious believers' feelings" -- a reference to the Pussy Riot protesters, a band of punk rock women who staged protests inside churches.

As for the anti-gay legislation, RIA Novosti said it is backed by a wide swath of Russian society. Opinion polls suggest as much as 88 percent of Russians support the bill, versions of which have been introduced on the municipal level in St. Petersburg and elsewhere.

Gay couples protesting the legislation began kissing outside the parliament building and anti-gay protesters hurled eggs and other objects at them, chanting "Moscow is not Sodom!"

Police detained several of the gay protesters but not any of the anti-gay group's members, RIA Novosti said.

Lawmakers were scheduled to vote on the measures Tuesday evening.


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