Dozens arrested as pro- and anti-gay rivals clash in Russia

Russian police arrested dozens of people on Saturday after clashes erupted in the city of Saint Petersburg between pro- and anti-gay demonstrators.

The violence flared just days after parliament approved controversial legislation banning the distribution of so-called "gay propaganda" to minors, which critics warn will be used to justify homophobic actions and arbitrary prosecution of gays.

"Homophobia is Saint Petersburg's shame" and "Down with fascism" chanted about 100 gay rights campaigners, while a group of about 150 rival demonstrators hurled bottles, stones and jam jars at them.

Police said dozens of activists from both sides were arrested.

Gay activists have blasted the bill, which won final approval from the upper house of parliament on Wednesday, as discriminatory.

It was passed the same day as the landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court striking down the Defence of Marriage Act which defines marriage as a union between a man and woman.