Eight gay rights activists were arrested today in St Petersburg, Russia, for handing out “homosexual propaganda”. The campaigners were attempting to hold gay Pride rallies. Three were arrested in a park, while five more were arrested later at the Smolny complex. St Petersburg passed a law in March banning “homosexual propaganda”. Gay rights campaigner Nikolai Alekseev became the first person to be convicted of the offence in May and was fined 5,000 roubles (around £100). Today’s attempted rallies were held to protest the law. According to reports, only nine people turned out to join the demonstrations. The campaigners applied for permission to hold an event, which was initially granted. But when city officials revoked it at the last minute, the activists said a rally would still go ahead.