Russian pro-gay and anti-gay activists clash

ST PETERSBURG, Russia - Police detained dozens of people when pro- and anti-gay activists clashed in the Russian city of St Petersburg on Saturday, just two weeks after parliament passed a law banning homosexual "propaganda".

Critics say the bill - a nationwide version of laws in place in cities including St Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin's hometown, - effectively bans gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals.

Up to 100 people took part in the march to protest against the law, confronted by an equal number of anti-gay activists, who threw eggs, smoke flares and stones at them.

Police intervened with batons to stop the violence and detained dozens of people.

"We staged the rally to support our rights and express our protest against the homophobic law," Natalya Tsymbalova, a gay activist said by telephone from a police station, adding that the rally did not infringe Russian law.

The march was organised by the group "Ravnopraviye" (Equal Rights).

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