ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — About two dozen activists have rallied in St. Petersburg to protest a new Russian law banning gay “propaganda” and attract attention of the leaders of the world’s 20 leading economies.
The rally went on peacefully under the close watch of several hundred riot police, who separated the protesters from a few dozen anti-gay demonstrators.
Participants in Friday’s protest held placards with signs such as “Stop homophobia in Russia!” and chanted “Putin lies!” — a reference to the Russian president’s denial that the new law infringes gay rights.
One of the protesters, Kirill Kalugin, said police protection of the rally was a “show intended for the Group of 20 leaders.”
U.S. President Barack Obama is set to meet with Russia’s civil society leaders, including some gay activists, later Friday.