BUCHAREST, June 9 (Reuters) - Romanian riot police detained dozens of militant protesters on Saturday as hundreds tried to violently break up a gay rights march in the capital, Bucharest.
Around 500 gay activists marched through the city to demonstrate against discrimination in this essentially conservative country and to call for the legalisation of same-sex marriages.
Police fired tear gas to hold the protesters at bay after hundreds threw stones and attempted to break through protective cordons manned by 700 officers.
Gays are viewed with hostility by much of the public as many people in the country of 22 million largely accept the powerful Orthodox church’s view of homosexuality as a sin and a disease.
"No one was hurt during the parade, we detained dozens of violent (any-gay) protesters," police spokesman Christian Ciocan told Reuters.
"We deeply regret that our opponents use violent ways to express themselves. Our march was peaceful," Florin Buhuceanu, one of the parade organisers told Realitatea TV.
Although homosexuality is legal in Romania, which joined the European Union this year, thousands were jailed during the communist era after a 1968 ban.
Hundreds more were sent to prison after the 1989 bloody revolution which ousted Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.