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Chicago Gay Rights Activist Arrested At Moscow Pride Parade

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Andy Thayer

Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network. (File Photo; Credit: CBS)

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MOSCOW (CBS) – A Chicago gay rights activist was among several people arrested in Russia over the weekend, for participating in an illegal Pride parade in Moscow.

Activist Andy Thayer, the co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, was among 32 people arrested Saturday, according to the Web site Gay Russia.

Also arrested was Dan Choi, a former U.S. Army infantry officer who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and Louis Georges-Tin, the French founder of the International Day Against Homophobia.

Gay Russia said the parade went ahead, despite the threat of arrest for taking part in an unsanctioned public action, and concerns about attacks by neo-Nazis.

All the participants were later “brutally” arrested, the Web site reported. They were later released, without mention of any charges.

Georges-Tin told The Advocate that foreign protesters were treated better than Russian protesters, and were allowed to keep their cell phones after arrest.

Thayer and the other gay rights activists had traveled to Moscow to support Russian LGBTs. Gay Pride events have been banned in Russia for five years in a row, according to Thayer’s organization.

The U.S. State Department has come out against the arrests. In a statement, deputy spokesman Mark Toner said the right of free assembly is guaranteed for citizens of all member countries in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, of which Russia is one.

“We call on Russian authorities to work with municipal officials to find better ways to safeguard these fundamental freedoms,” Toner said in the statement.

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