Monday, 10 May 2010

Times: Police, protesters clash at first-ever Lithuanian gay march
Sunday, 9th May 2010; AFP

Police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters in Lithuania's capital Vilnius yesterday, as homosexual rights campaigners held their first-ever rally in the Baltic state.

Officers moved in to disperse around 2,000 counter demonstrators at the end of the Baltic Pride 2010 march, as they hurled stones, bottles and fire-crackers from behind security barriers and shouted 'Down with Homonazis'.

Nineteen protesters were arrested, police said.

Gay rights campaigners had last Friday won an appeal against a court decision to ban their parade in this overwhelming Catholic and former communist EU nation of 3.3 million people, where homosexuality is largely taboo.

"We've made a decisive step towards greater tolerance," Vytautas Valentinavicius, one of the organisers, told AFP.

Around 300 people took part in the march, with a heavy police presence protecting them from the protesters.

"I feel like I've taken part in a historic event," said Ieva, a medical student, marching with her partner Monika.

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