Sixty-seven people were arrested after fightes broke out between gay rights activists and opponents at a rally in the Russian city of St Petersburg, according to local news sources.

Several dozen activists for  lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual rights had gathered in the centre of the city for a sanctioned LGBT rally, which was held on what activists termed as "international coming out day". 

They were far outnumbered by the anti-gay demonstrators, including several dressed as Cossacks and Orthodox priests, who had occupied the site of the planned demo.

Fights broke out after anti-gay protesters tore a rainbow flag from a woman's hands, and police then moved in to arrest those involved. They eventually detained 67 people from both sides, Russian news agencies reported. 

Gay rights campaigners in Russia have held several small protests since the adoption of a law in June banning homosexual "propaganda" directed at minors. Critics say the law curtails homosexuals' rights to free speech and assembly.  The issue has attracted growing international attention ahead of Russia's hosting of the Winter Olympics in Sochi next

year. Gay rights activists have called for participants and sponsors to boycott the games in protest at the law.

Source: Agencies