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Online support group for Russian LGBT teens acquitted of propaganda charges

Elena Klimova, who ran the Children 404 social media page, was accused of breaking the law by encouraging gay teens to believe homosexuality is normal
Elena Klimova, the online founder of Russian LGBT online support group Children 404, was acquitted of gay propaganda charges.

Good news might be scarce for Russian LGBTIs, but the founder of a gay teen online help group was released from propaganda charges today (21 February).

Elena Klimova, the founder of the group Children-404 which operates on Russian social network VK, was accused of breaking the law by encouraging teens to believe being gay is normal.

A journalist, she became notable in Russia after publishing a series of articles about a minor’s homosexuality.

She began receiving letters from other youths who were facing bullying, oppression, and many were considering self-harm and suicide.

And that is when she decided to set up the online group, allowing others to share their stories to gay teens in Russia know they are not alone.

Following charges of propaganda, announced on 31 January, Children 404 was shut down.

In the legal papers, it was claimed Klimova broke the law by ‘distorting the picture of society’ and failed to protect children from harmful information. She would have faced up to a 100,000 roubles ($2,800, €2,100) fine.

But now, Klimova was acquitted of the charges by the Dzherskinskii district court of Nizhni Tagil.

In the court session, a Russian LGBT Network lawyer Maria Kozlovskaya proved Klimova did not register the group Children 404 but was just administrating it.

The judge ruled the materials published in Children 404 had nothing to do with the ‘propaganda of homosexuality, but that this group is of great help for minors facing problems because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Klimova’s lawyer said: ‘We looked for such a decision and believe that it proves the incapacity and groundlessness of the so-called law about “propaganda of homosexuality”.

‘This law contradicts to some Russia’s international obligations and, as it was proved by the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee, consolidates discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and violates the freedom of speech.’

Milonov, the Russian lawmaker and main sponsor for the ‘gay propaganda’ law, is appealing against the decision.

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