Alekseyev before he was arrested on April 12 (Pic:

Nikolai Alekseev, the best-known LGBT activist in Russia, has become the first person to be convicted under St. Petersburg’s new ‘gay-propaganda’ law, reports The Moscow Times.

Alekseev was arrested on April 12 after he held a banner that proclaimed “Homosexuality is not a perversion” outside the city’s Smolny Institute.

On Friday, Alekseev was found guilty of promoting homosexuality to minors and fined 5,000 roubles ($169 / R1,300).

The judge read out statements from people who claimed that they feared that the banner could cause harm to children.

“I do not know what it means to promote homosexuality, and I do not admit my guilt,” Alexeyev, who plans to appeal the ruling, told the court.

The law prohibits “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism, and paedophilia” to minors in Russia’s second largest city. It effectively bans any public gay events or messaging.

While a handful of activists have been arrested for similar offences since the law came into effect in March none had yet been convicted.

In one case an activist was found guilty of non-compliance with police, but the propaganda charge was ignored by the court.

Alekseev has been at the forefront of the LGBT rights movement in Russia. In addition to being arrested numerous times while attempting to hold banned Pride events in Moscow, in September 2010 he was abducted by unknown agents at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport.

He was released a few days later. In October last year he resigned from Moscow Pride.

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