Americans Lt. Dan Choi and Andy Thayer
and France's Louis-Georges Tin were among the 18 arrested Saturday
attempting to hold a Gay Pride parade in Moscow, the AP reported.
Maxim Kolosvegtov, a police spokesman,
told Russian news agencies that 14 opponents were also arrested.
The administration of Moscow Mayor
Sergey Sobyanin last week rejected an application to hold a Gay Pride
event in the city, stunning gay rights activists who were led to
believe that authorities would allow the event to proceed for the
first time in six years.
Officials cited a risk to public order
in announcing their decision.
Activists made two attempts to hold
demonstrations: one at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the
Kremlin and later outside Sobyanin's office.
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.”
Lt. Choi, who was kicked out of the
Army for acknowledging he's gay while protesting “Don't Ask, Don't
Tell,” posted a video explaining why he had traveled to Moscow.
“I am here in Russia in solidarity
with our brothers and sisters who are fighting for the basic right to
express their identity,” Choi said. (The video is embedded in the
right panel of this page.)
The video was posted on the YouTube
channel of Chicago's Gay Liberation Network, which is headed by
The third prominent gay rights
activist, Tin, is the founder of IDAHO, the annual May 17 event that
brings awareness to homophobia and transphobia.
a video posted at YouTube, Choi says he suffered “a slight
injury to my right ear and massive ringing at this moment” from his
Moscow's former mayor, Yury Luzhkov,
routinely banned Gay Pride events and aggressively shut down any
unauthorized pro-gay demonstrations, which he called “Satanic
Gay activists challenged the bans in
the European Court of Human Rights. In a decision handed down last
year, the court agreed that such bans were illegal.
Sobyanin earlier said his
administration would respect the rule of law, raising gay activists'
expectations that authorities would finally allow a Gay Pride parade