"We were expecting this. It's the authorities that are allowing this to happen," said a woman holding a limp red carnation who identified herself only as Anna, a lesbian.

Talking to the press after the religious and nationalist groups violently interfered in a gay parade in Moscow. Yuri Luzhkov Moscow's mayor simply said "as long as I am mayor, we will not permit these parades".

Police detained the rally's main organizer, Nikolai Alexeyev, as he attempted to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a symbol of the Soviet Union's victory against fascism in World War II, just outside the Kremlin wall.

"We are conducting a peaceful action. We want to show that we have the same rights as other citizens," Mr. Alexeyev had told a news conference a few hours before the rally was to have begun.

But police closed the entrance to the garden where the tomb is located, and the first half-dozen activists arrived carrying flowers were set upon by about 100 religious and nationalist extremists who kicked and punched them.

Unfortunately those fascists and religious nutcases that the Soviet Union smashed during the second world war, are back, and are on the streets of Moscow.

"Moscow is not Sodom!" they shouted. Women wearing head scarves held up religious icons while men in Cossack white sheepskin hats and black-and-red tunics stood by.

"Both the authorities and the fascists had the same objective — to suppress the Moscow gay pride," Mr. Tatchell said.

By the time of the start of the rally, more than 100 youths were standing in the square opposite the mayor's office, chanting: "Glory to Russia!"

Several trampled on a rainbow-coloured ribbon — a symbol of gay rights — into the ground.

"This is a perverts' parade," said one protester holding an icon of the Madonna. "This is filth, which is forbidden by God. We have to cleanse the world of this filth," said the woman who gave only her first name, Irina.

The law and social attitudes need to return to the original Soviet position. In that there can be no crime without a victim. Anyone can do what they like - so long as it does not negatively effect somebody else. The way legal and social attitudes should be taken. A victimless crime is not a crime.

I would like to see the communists provide escort for future gay parades in Russia, and other countries with similar problems, it's clear the religious and nationalist groups are well organised to counter these parades with force and communists need to take a positive step to defend them. The fascists are much less likely to do anything when they're outnumbered 20 to 1 by the communists.