1. LGBT-rights supporters planned to release balloons as part of “Rainbow Flashmobs” in 13 cities around Russia on Saturday to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
2. Organizers were prepared for the worst, since violent counter-protestors had shown up in previous years:
Last year, Vitaly Milonov, a St. Petersburg lawmaker who authored the model for the “homosexual propaganda” law, participated in a counter protest with posters equating homosexuality with pedophilia. “Young boys: More than 14 incidents,” read the poster.
3. There were no major confrontations reported this year, despite rants by hate groups on social media. There was a minor scuffle as 200 participants got off the bus in St. Petersburg, but the balloons were released without a hitch.
“Today’s IDAHOT “Rainbow flashmob” rally on Marsovo Pole, St. Peterburg’s city center, looked more like a celebration than in the years prior,” said Polina Andrianova of the organization that arranged the event, Coming Out, in a statement. This was thanks to some 200 police officers who provided security.
One participant in the far Northeastern city of Murmansk was arrested and charged with “propaganda of homosexuality,” according to Svetlana Zakharova of the Russian LGBT Network, but the details of the arrest were not yet available.
4. The worst confrontation reported came from the eastern city of Khaborovsk, where counter protestors showed up. They were determined to take a bold stand against balloons. Here’s what happened:
5. But some balloons survived the attack, and they were released into the air with pink triangles on them.
“In principle, the action achieved its goal,” said one of the organizers to media covering the event.