On Saturday, LGBTQ activists in the European country of Moldova held their third annual march against homophobia. Hundreds of police guarded the marchers from anti-LGBTQ Orthodox Christian protesters as they walked through the country’s capitol city of Chișinău. Police even deployed tear gas at one point to disperse protestors who tried to disrupt the Moldova LGBTQ march by breaking through a police blockade.
In videos of the march, one can see throngs of police in black riot gear guarding the street sides of the march route, walking alongside the marchers and blocking the end of their group to protect it from any rear attacks.
Anti-LGBT Christian Orthodox protests have demonstrated against the march every year since the first iteration in 2016.
Here’s video of anti-gay protestors wiping tear gas from their eyes at the 2018 Moldova LGBTQ march:
Two days before the march, its organizers — a local LGBTQ rights organization called GENDERDOC-M — released a statement affirming their right to assemble and march under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The statement also thanked the police for their protection. Over 20 foreign embassies in Moldova signed the statement including the United States.
The march comes a year after Moldovan President Igor Dodon said, “I have never promised to be the president of the gays.” He also criticized the march, saying it contradicted the country’s moral values.
Angela Frolov, program coordinator at GENDERDOC-M said, “I can’t say anything about those who came to protest against us, it’s their right. This is our society and we live in it. We were accused that we destroy traditional families. We believe that the traditional family is a family where there is respect and dignity.”
An attendee of the 2016 march, Arnaud Gauthier-Fawas, said the marchers only experienced three aggressive incidents: A religious group sang songs and threw holy water onto them, some person threw eggs at them from an upper-floor apartment and counter-protestors tried to block the march route. In all cases, Gauthier-Fawas says, the police responded calmly and dispersed the aggressors while encouraging marchers to walk quickly past the threats.
The country’s first Pride march occurred in 2013, but it was cut short because of angry counter-protestors.