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18 Jun, 2007 12:07

Unknown assailants fall upon anti-gays in Moscow

Over the weekend a group of anti-gay activists were attacked in Moscow by an unknown group of men. “St. George's Patrol” as they call themselves, had recently began a movement trying to get homosexuals in an area of Moscow to leave.

It is rare that violence erupts against anti-gay groups. Usually it’s the other way round, in a country where being gay is still something better kept to yourself.

But on Saturday, participants of  a “St. George's Patrol,”  were attacked in the centre of Moscow. Five young activists of the movement told police eight unknown people attacked them. But it’s unclear whether the violence was motivated by a recent attempt by “St. George’s Patrol” to rid part of Moscow of homosexuals.

On June 12, the Orthodox activists began patrolling Ilyinskiy Garden – a place known for gatherings of gays and lesbians, the activists attempting to persuade people of non-traditionally sexual orientation to leave.

“It’s a holy place.There is a chapel on this square and it is not a place for gays, especially when they display public affection,” believes Diana Romanovskaya, an anti-gay activist.

Gay rights organizations think the movement is outrageous.

“How can some religious fanatics walk around and tell a group of people not to gather at a certain place? This is a clear example of homophobic segregation and we will fight it,” stated Nikolai Bayev from the Gay Russia movement.

The St George’s Patrol is sure the attack was planned.

“Our friends said ‘Why are you attacking us? We are Orthodox Christians, good people.’ And the attackers answered ”What orthodox people? Well that’s probably why we are doing this,« – making it seem like someone ordered the beating,» claims Diana Romanovskaya.

The sexual orientation of the attackers is unknown and police are looking for the offenders.

The St. George Patrol says they will continue patrolling the streets of Moscow, which if granted government support, could make the already difficult fight for gay rights in Russia even harder.