1. Russian police arrested more than 20 gay rights activists involved in a “kissing protest” on Tuesday:
2. The AP reports the protest took place outside the State Duma in Moscow. Lawmakers are preparing to pass a bill banning all homosexual “propaganda.”
The State Duma voted 434-0 with one abstention on Tuesday to approve the new legislation. The bill imposes, “hefty fines for holding gay pride rallies or providing information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors.”
3. The gay protesters were reportedly outnumbered by nearly 200 anti-gay activists who stood around them:
A RIA Novosti reported at the scene that the demonstration started peacefully, with a police physically separating the LGBT activists from those backing the bill.
4. The police were not able to contain the large crowds, and several activists clashed:
5. Police then began detaining protesters and brought them into nearby buses.
The police stated that nearly 30 activists were detained, but did not indicate whether these were pro- or anti-bill protesters.
7. Journalist Masha Gessen was detained by police:
9. Reuters reports:
Journalist and Putin critic Masha Gessen said she was among 24 people being taken to police stations. Moscow police said about 20 people were detained.
The State Duma, or lower house of parliament, was expected to pass the bill later in the day, ignoring Western criticism that it curbs basic freedoms and concerns among activists that it is fuelling hate attacks on homosexuals.