UK gay rights activist arrested in Russia as World Cup opens

Russian police surround gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, center,  near Red Square in Moscow on Thursday.

(CNN)UK-based gay rights activist Peter Tatchell was briefly detained by police in Moscow on the opening day of the month-long World Cup soccer tournament in Russia.

Video of Tatchell's protest on Thursday showed him holding a sign which read: "Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people." He was then approached by several police officers and taken to a police station, before later being released.
The British embassy in Moscow said it had spoken to local authorities and that it was pleased Tatchell had been released.
    Tatchell later tweeted that he was due to appear in court on June 26 accused of violating laws which bar "all protests near the Kremlin & during World Cup."
      He added that he was pleased to stand in solidarity with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Russia and Chechnya, a Russian republic.
      Witnesses and victims reported a brutal crackdown on gay men in Chechnya last year, with hundreds of men allegedly held and abused in detention centers because of their sexual orientation.
      The reports prompted an international backlash. Chechnya's leader dismissed the furor in a TV interview, however, asserting that there are no gays in his Russian republic and saying they should be removed from the region if there are. A Chechen government spokesman called the allegations of a crackdown "an absolute lie."
      Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but homophobia and discrimination are still common.