Hundreds of people with Moldovan and Orthodox flags and crucifixes began yelling at the more than 150 advocates who were taking part in the march before police officers ushered them onto buses that took them to a hotel. The counter protesters also threw eggs at them from apartment buildings along the march route.
Arnaud Gauthier-Fawas, a Paris-based LGBT rights advocate who took part in the march, told the Washington Blade on Sunday from Chisinau that he and other advocates encountered an Orthodox priest with a group of roughly 20 protesters shortly after the event began.
Gauthier-Fawas said the protesters threw holy water at him and other marchers as they passed.
“I’m both sad and proud,” Gauthier-Fawas told the Blade, referring to the march and the protesters who disrupted it. “Sad because it stopped really fast, but at the same time really proud of all the work the organizers did.”
Campania socială “Fără frică,” a Moldovan advocacy group, organized the march.
A State Department official told the Blade that a representative of the U.S. Embassy in Moldova participated in the event. Gauthier-Fawas said German, French and Swedish diplomats also took part.
“We are disappointed by reports of a counter demonstration against an LGBTI march in Moldova in which counter-demonstrators threw eggs at, and insulted, those participating in the LGBTI march,” the State Department official told the Blade. “We commend local police for separating the two groups and escorting those supporting the LGBTI march to a safe location.”
Moldova is a former Soviet republic located between Romania and Ukraine.
The country bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and 10 other characteristics that include race and gender.
The State Department’s 2015 human rights report notes anti-LGBT discrimination, harassment and violence are commonplace in Moldova. A separate report that ILGA-Europe released earlier this month ranks Moldova 42 out of 49 countries in Europe and in the former Soviet Union in terms of protecting their LGBT citizens.
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