Man cleared of gay propaganda charge in Russia
Judge cites lack of evidence in charges against straight attorney Sergey Kondrashov
Sergey Kondrashov is a straight attorney who was arrested for holding up a gay rights banner in Saint Petersburg, Russia, two weeks ago.
He was charged with the promotion and propaganda of homosexuality under a new law that officially prevents the ‘propaganda of homosexuality to minors.’ Kondrashov was also charged with disobeying a police officer.
On Monday (23 April), he was found guilty only of the latter charge with the judge in the case citing a lack of evidence, and protocols.
'The courts are afraid of applying this law and do not want to take responsibility for its further enforcement,' Kondrashov said of decision which he plans to appeal. 'The judge's decision is illogical in a legal sense, and it lacks common sense.'
Sergey was arrested earlier this month for holding up a banner that read: 'A dear family friend is lesbian. My wife and I love and respect her … and her family is just as equal as ours.'
Activists say the fact that Kondrashov was only found guilty of disobeying a police order is proof that the courts have no legal basis to prosecute St. Petersburg's recently passed 'homosexual propaganda law.
'I was accused only of disobeying the policeman but all evidence of the supposed 'propaganda' I was spreading disappeared from the court record,' Kondrashov said.
He has teamed up with AllOut.org in an effort to get Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to stop the law before if spreads nationwide.
'This law has brought no good and much embarrassment to St. Petersburg,' said AllOut.org Executive Director Andre Banks. 'The law is unenforceable and it is a violation of long-standing international legal obligations. And the arrest of a straight, married Russian man reminds us that it crushes freedom of expression for all Russians. … Prime Minister Putin needs to intervene. This law has no place in modern Russia.'