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Posted on 18 August 2012 at 12:33 GMT

Demonstration in Leeds supporting Pussy Riot, photo Michael Johnson

Demonstration in Leeds supporting Pussy Riot, photo Michael Johnson   (Click to enlarge)

Leeds Pussy Riot solidarity

Dressed in brightly coloured balaclavas, woolly stockings and costumes inspired by the punk group Pussy Riot, over 200 people gathered in Leeds city centre to protest against the treatment of the group in Russia, specifically three members of the group being arrested in February following a performance of their anti-Putin "punk-prayer" on the altar of Moscow's main orthodox cathedral.

They were charged with "hooliganism" and held in jail for nearly six months awaiting trial. Last week they were sentenced to two years in prison.

Demonstration in Leeds in support of Pussy Riot , photo by Michael Johnson

Demonstration in Leeds in support of Pussy Riot , photo by Michael Johnson   (Click to enlarge)

Inspired by the actions of the punk group's protests in defence of women's and LGBT rights the assembled protesters decided not only to focus solely on the arrest and trial of Pussy Riot but also invoke the group's spirit and protest against recent homophobic comments by a local pub owner.

The pub owner, Lewis Cuddy, first posted on twitter during Leeds Pride:
"So once again it's time for lots of people to celebrate the fact that they are all socially unable to be normal. Well done. When is Leeds first paedo pride event? Or is it just the same thing. Bonkers."

When pushed for an apology, Cuddy first tried to explain that his comments were only meant for close friends, before going on to say:
"Any of my close friends know that I have a massive problem with gay pride, not because of gay people but the attitude of the council ... [t]his is what angers me, why should a minority have different rights to the majority. Maybe saying that paedophiles should get their own minority event was a bit strong but clearly the people who my comments were aimed at would understand."

To make it clear that this 'apology' wouldn't be accepted, the assembled Pussy Riot flash mob also marched to two of Cuddy's pubs, protesting outside: "We're here, we're queer, we will not buy your beer!"

The Socialist Party calls for the immediate release of Pussy Riot and all those arrested around the recent opposition protests in Russia, and for all charges to be dropped.

We support the LGBT movement standing up to discrimination and continuing the fightback against homophobia, which this protest shows is happening.

Michael Johnson

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