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    Sexual minorities activists detained after protest in St. Petersburg

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    Several sexual minorities activists were detained on Saturday after attempting to stage an unsanctioned protest in central St. Petersburg.

     Several sexual minorities activists were detained on Saturday after attempting to stage an unsanctioned protest in central St. Petersburg.

    A dozen activists gathered in front of the Hermitage Museum to protest against the intimidation of sexual minorities in Russia.

    They waved placards saying "Homophobia is a disease" and attempted to enter the nearby Palace Square but were stopped by police.

    A police spokesman said five activists were detained for "taking part in an unsanctioned public rally."

    St. Petersburg's ombudsman Alexei Kozyrev said earlier this year sexual minorities have the right to stage public marches in the city.

    Gay pride marches are banned in Russia, a country where homosexuality was only legalized in 1993 and where homophobia is still deeply entrenched in society.

    In May 2009, Russian gay activists were planning to hold the country's first ever gay rights parade during the Eurovision Song Contest final. After the city council refused to give official permission for the parade, a group of activists staged a spontaneous march and a number of them were detained by police.

    ST. PETERSBURG, June 26 (RIA Novosti)

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