Moscow: Russian police detained more than 20 gay rights activists involved in a "kissing protest" on Tuesday outside parliament where lawmakers were preparing to pass a bill banning homosexual "propaganda".
The bill is one of a series of socially conservative measures garnering support in the Kremlin-dominated parliament during President Vladimir Putin's third term.
The gay protesters were far outnumbered by around 200 anti-gay activists who surrounded them, chanting "Russia is not Sodom", singing Orthodox Christian prayers and crossing themselves. They threw rotten eggs at the gay protesters.
After scuffles in which one man was knocked to the ground and kicked by the anti-gay activists, police began detaining the gay protesters and bundling them into waiting buses.
Journalist and Putin critic Masha Gessen said she was among 24 people being taken to police stations. Moscow police said about 20 people were detained.
The State Duma, or lower house of parliament, was expected to pass the bill later in the day, ignoring Western criticism that it curbs basic freedoms and concerns among activists that it is fuelling hate attacks on homosexuals.
The bill would ban the spread of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" among minors and impose heavy fines for violations.
"Traditional sexual relations are relations between a man and a woman, which ... are a condition for the preservation and development of the multi-ethnic Russian people," lawmaker Yelena Mizulina told the Duma on Tuesday.
"It is precisely these relations that need special protection by the state," she said.
Updated Date: Jun 11, 2013 18:23:40 IST