Chisinau, May 19, Interfax - Anti-sexual minority demonstrators thwarted a sexual minority march in Chisinau on Saturday half an hour after it began, an Interfax correspondent reported from the city center.
The several dozen sexual minority activists were barred from entering the Moldovan capital's central street, Stefan cel Mare Avenue, by dozens of men who were crying out insults and threatening violence and many of whom were wearing masks.
The march was part of Tolerance Week, which had been organized by the Gay, Bisexual and Lesbian League.
The marchers included foreign diplomats posted in Chisinau, among them European Union and Council of Europe envoys and the resident representative in Moldova of the UN Development Programme, Nicola Harrington-Buhay.
Several hundred police - several times more numerous than the marchers - wearing helmets and armed with truncheons but bearing no weapons were accompanying the column. Nevertheless, the marchers were forced to get on two buses and go to the city outskirts.
The anti-sexual minority demonstrators included priests who afterward gathered in front of the cathedral in the city center and said they would not let sexual minority events in Chisinau go ahead as "gays and lesbians offend the feelings of believers and there is no room for them in Christian society."
Angela Frolova, program coordinator at GenderDoc-M Information Center, told reporters that Moldova's sexual minorities would continue to fight for their rights with all available means.
"Moldova has opted for a European path of development and must show more tolerance. All people are equal regardless of their sexual orientation. There has been some progress in Moldova as regards tolerance for sexual minorities, but it is insufficient," she said.
Polish diplomat Robert Biedron, a sexual minority activist and Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly rapporteur on sexual minority rights, said such marches in Poland had been running into bigger problems.
"We've had rocks and Molotov cocktails hurled at us. But we've held out and won. I'm sure that here as well we will be able to hold our events peacefully and freely," he told reporters.