Russian gays hold first authorised demo amid provocations

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A small group of Russian homosexuals held what was billed as the first authorised demonstration of its type in the country Saturday, despite provocations from counter-protesters who threw eggs.

Around a dozen people gathered in Russia's second city holding signs calling for greater tolerance of homosexuality and improved human rights, according to an AFP reporter.

"The fact that this demonstration was authorised is a step forward for us and for all of democratic Russia," said Maria Efremenkova, one of the organisers.

The group was outnumbered by counter-protesters and were guarded by police.

Counter-protesters included old ladies and skinheads, some of whom threw eggs and shouted insults.

Russian authorities have regularly banned gay demonstrations, particularly in Moscow, where former mayor Yuri Luzhkov said homosexuality was "satanic".

© 2010 AFP

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