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U.S. reacts to Moscow gay pride arrests: freedom of assembly a ‘fundamental right’

Sunday, May 29, 2011
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The U.S. Department of State on Sunday issued a statement in response to the arrest of 34 people during a unauthorized gay pride cebration in the center of the Russian capital.

The press statement was released by Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner:

We note with concern that in Moscow on Saturday, May 28, a peaceable demonstration of Russians advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians, joined by international supporters, was forcefully disrupted by counter-protesters, and that Russian security forces then detained people from both groups, including American citizens. Some protestors were seriously injured according to media reports.

Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right all members of the OSCE committed to, including in the Moscow declaration and as recently as the Astana summit. As nationwide legislative elections approach, constraints on the ability of Russian citizens peacefully to gather and express their views will be closely watched in evaluating the integrity of the electoral process. We call on Russian authorities to work with municipal officials to find better ways to safeguard these fundamental freedoms.

A Moscow police spokesman told Russian news agencies that 18 gay activists and 16 counter-demonstrators were arrested, among them American LGBT rights activists Andy Thayer from Chicago, and Dan Choi, from New York.

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