Police at St. Petersburg's Labor Day parade arrested nearly 20 activists from Russia's LGBT community earlier today, according to the news agency FlashNord.
“The young people were arrested after they unfurled a rainbow flag on Nevsky Prospect,” said an eyewitness.
“Coming Out,” a gay rights group active in St. Petersburg for more than seven years, tweeted pictures of the unfurled pride flag and the LGBT activists being arrested:
Meanwhile, St. Petersburg's Legislative Assembly allowed the Neo-Nazi movement “Slavic Power Northwest” (an offshoot of another group that's been banned in Russia) to march in the city's Labor Day parade. The Neo-Nazis marched under the slogan “For the unity of Slavs and the White Race!”
Activists organizing this year's annual LGBT Labor Day march reported on April 29 that St. Petersburg authorities had banned representatives of the gay community from joining the May 1 parade.
“For the first time in the history of the movement in Russia, [representatives from the LGBT community] will miss out on the biggest street event of the year,” said LGBT parade organizers.
Free Trade Unions and Green Activists, who were granted official permission to join in St. Petersburg's Labor Day parade, said LGBT community members could march with them, as long as “no rainbow flags or [LGBT] banners were used… for the safety of the other marchers.”
Over the past year, St. Petersburg's LGBT community has been barred from several rallies held by the city's progressive community, including the Peace March, the Anti-Fascist March, and the March Against Hate.