A teenager, who is the first minor to be charged under Russia’s so-called ‘gay propaganda’ law, is fighting against his conviction.
Sixteen-year-old schoolboy Maxim Neverov was found guilty of violating the law on 7 August after he posted images of “partly nude” men on social media.
A court found that the images, posted on his profile on the Russian social network VKontakte, “had the characteristics of propaganda of homosexual relations”.
There were reportedly several procedural irregularities in the finding and Neverov was allegedly not allowed to consult a lawyer when a police officer filed the report about the contravention.
According to the Russian LGBT Network, the teen was fined 50 000 rubles (R10,850 / US$ 744.00). The organisation pointed out the irony that the boy was prosecuted via a law that is intended to “protect minors”.
Activists believe that Neverov may have been targeted after he submitted repeated requests to city officials in Biysk to hold a protest in support of the LGBTQ community.
Neverov is being given legal support by the Russian LGBT Network and will soon go back to court to appeal the decision.
A petition has been launched through All Out to show support for the youth and to ensure that the case is highlighted in the international media. The petition also calls for the charges against Neverov to be dropped.
“If thousands of people hear about my case, we can get Russia’s absurd anti-gay law back in the news. We can demand that charges are dropped and push for an end to these laws once and for all,” said Neverov.
“I won’t put up with this madness, but it’s unlikely authorities will let me win – unless thousands of people join my call for justice,” he added.
The federal gay propaganda law, signed by President Putin in 2013, effectively bars any expression or discussion of homosexuality in public, on television, in print or on the internet. It has also been used to ban Pride events and LGBTQ rights demonstrations across Russia.
The law has been blamed for increased anti-gay sentiment, discrimination and violence against members of the LGBTQ community.
You can sign the petition in support of Neverov here.