The White House on Sunday denounced the
arrests of 18 gay activists attempting to hold a Gay Pride parade in
Moscow on Saturday.
Among the detained were Americans Lt.
Dan Choi and Andy Thayer and France's Louis-Georges Tin. Police also
arrested 14 opponents.
“We note with concern that in Moscow
on Saturday, May 28, a peaceable demonstration of Russians advocating
for the rights of gays and lesbians, joined by international
supporters, was forcefully disrupted by counter-protesters, and that
Russian security forces then detained people from both groups,
including American citizens. Some protestors were seriously injured
according to media reports,” U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman
Mark Toner said.
“Freedom of assembly is a fundamental
right all members of the OSCE committed to, including in the Moscow
declaration and as recently as the Astana summit. As nationwide
legislative elections approach, constraints on the ability of Russian
citizens peacefully to gather and express their views will be closely
watched in evaluating the integrity of the electoral process. We
call on Russian authorities to work with municipal officials to find
better ways to safeguard these fundamental freedoms,” he added.
Nikolai Alexeyev, who helms Moscow Gay
Pride, told CNN that an ultra-Orthodox group attacked them as soon as
they unfurled their banners and flags.
“We have been asking for the last six
years to gather,” Alexeyev said. “We are being deprived of a
very simple right that is taken for granted in democratic countries.”
Choi is best known for protesting
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that bars gay and bisexual
troops from serving openly.
He was booted from the Army under the
policy for acknowledging he's gay on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow
In a video taken with his cell phone
from inside a Russian paddywagon and uploaded to YouTube, Choi said
he had suffered a “slight injury to my right ear” during the
arrest and was experiencing “massive ringing.”