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Hundreds of Ukrainian lesbian and gay activists have joined a rally in the centre of Kiev, defying a court order.

Protesters denounced a proposed new law that would ban any positive depiction of homosexuals including gay pride marches.

Clashes broke-out after anti-gay activists tried to disrupt the rally by letting off gas in the crowd.

Several people were arrested.

One protester said: “We came out to protest against the draft law which restricts my personal rights, human rights in general and freedom of the press.”

Another woman was angry that the demonstration had not been approved: “On December 10, it’s World Human Rights Day. But it seems to be irrelevant here in Ukraine. Authorities and their representatives are preventing our supporters from joining us here.”

The so-called “anti-gay propaganda” bill sailed through its first reading in parliament in October.

Under the draft law, anyone who imports, produces or distributes this kind of material could face up to five years in jail.

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