Moscow, April 7 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Two gay rights activists in Russia's St. Petersburg city have been arrested for violating a new local law that bans "gay propaganda", police said.
The law, which came into force March 17, has caused a divided reaction among Russians, where anti-gay sentiment remains strong.
Russian LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) groups have requested support from the West against the law that made the "promotion of homosexuality" an administrative offence. The influential Russian Orthodox Church has backed the law.
A resident of Krasnodar region and one from Lipetsk region were detained for picketing against the law, police in St. Petersburg said.
The men were detained for carrying slogans, which the law qualifies as "public actions aimed at promoting sodomy, lesbian culture and bisexuality among minors".
Gay right group GayRussia.Ru quoted the men's lawyers as saying there was no propaganda in the men's actions.
"They just tried to deliver a message that homosexuality is not an illness but a normal sexual orientation," GayRussia.Ru said.
After the law was passed, gay activists asked leaders in the West to ban the author of the law, legislator Vitaly Milonov, and governor Georgy Poltavchenko who signed it, from entry into the European Union, US and Canada.
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