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Amnesty International Criticizes Moldovan President's Antigay Comments

An Orthodox believer with a cross takes part in a protest against a rally organized by the LGBT community for human rights and equality in Chisinau on May 21.

The Moldova branch of Amnesty International says President Igor Dodon has violated the country's constitution by saying that he is not the president of Moldovan gays.

A protest march organized by Moldova's LGBT community on May 21 was halted shortly after it started as police sought to avert confrontation with participants in an antigay protest by people calling themselves Orthodox priests and believers.

Scores of participants in the LGBT march were evacuated in buses by police after eggs and water were thrown at them by those attending the rival protest.

Dodon, who attended an event the same day called the Traditional Family Festival, told journalists: "I have never promised to be the president of the gays, they should have elected their own president."

Amnesty International's Moldova branch said on May 22 that Dodon's statement represented "a serious violation of Moldova's constitution, which bans the head of state from inciting hate and obliges him to respect the rights of every Moldovan citizen."

In a statement, it said Dodon's remarks violate not only the constitution and other Moldovan legislation, but also international laws that Moldova has pledged to respect.

After his election in December, the pro-Russian Dodon had promised to be "everyone's president."

On May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, 10 ambassadors to Moldova issued a joint statement voicing hope that the LGBT march would take place without incident.

The statement was signed by the envoys of the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Lithuania, and Estonia.

Dodon had criticized the gay-rights march before it was held, saying it promoted "actions [that] contradict our traditional values."