Police in the former Soviet republic of Georgia say they have detained 10 gay rights activists who were painting graffiti on the fence of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarch's office.

Despite its political and economic rapprochement with the West, Georgia remains a deeply conservative country as concerns family and gender. The capital, Tbilisi, this year is hosting the conservative World Congress of Families.

Georgia's interior ministry said on Tuesday 10 people were detained at the break of dawn as they were writing "All love is equal." The police said the activists could face charges ranging from vandalism to disobeying police orders.

The Georgian Orthodox Church has spoken against gay marriage, and men of the cloth have been spotted attacking gay-rights protests.