Russian Court fines LGBT activist for “gay propaganda”

Sergei Alekseenko

Sergei Alekseenko

A Russian LGBT activist has been found guilty of violating the country’s notorious so-called gay propaganda law.

On January 18, the Leninsky District Court in Murmansk, in north-western Russia, fined Sergei Alekseenko, Director of the LGBT group Maximum, 100,000 rubles (about $1,300 / R21,000).

It found him guilty of posting items on Maximum’s web page that presented positive information about LGBT relationships to children; thus disseminating “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.”

One of the offending posts that were declared illegal stated: “Children! To be gay means to be a person who is brave, strong, confident, persistent, who has a sense of dignity and self-respect.”

Ironically, Alekseenko’s group, Maximum, ceased to operate in October 2015, after the authorities registered it as a “foreign agent.” Alekseenko will be appealing the district court’s verdict.

Human Rights Watch urged prosecutors not to oppose Alekseenko’s appeal. “Russian authorities use the ‘gay propaganda’ law to harass and intimidate LGBT activists into silence,” commented Tanya Cooper, Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Alekseenko is the fifth LGBT activist Russian courts have held liable for “gay propaganda” since the law entered into force in June 2013.

“Russian authorities should immediately stop penalising LGBT people for discussing their identities,” Cooper said. “Russia’s federal law banning ‘gay propaganda’ should be immediately repealed.”

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