Two gay activists from Moscow Pride were arrested in St Petersburg yesterday (5 April) under the new ‘gay propaganda’ law.
The law, similar to legislation in other Russian states, officially prevents the ‘propaganda of homosexuality to minors’ but campaigners warn it will be used to gag any public discussion of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender issues or events targeted at gay and trans people.
They are due to appear in court today – and if found guilty they will appeal the new St Petersburg law to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.
Alexei Kiselyov, and Cyril Nepomnyashiy were both arrested yesterday as they staged individual pickets close the Palace of Youth Creativity on Nevsky Prospect. They face fines of 5,000 roubles ($172 €125) each.
In addition, the two activists face up to 15 days in prison for taking part in a public event that was not authorized by the city authorities and of ‘disobeying the lawful demands of police officers,’ GayRussia is reporting.
Nikolai Alekseev, the founder of Moscow Gay Pride and GayRussia, is the lawyer for the two activists. He said this morning (6 April) that there was ‘no propaganda’ involved in the pickets.
‘They are only trying to convey to the public capital scientific truth that homosexuality is not a disease but a natural and normal sexual orientation,’ he told Gay Star News.
‘But yesterday’s arrests show that this prohibition is being broadly construed, enforcing the denial of the right of freedom of expression for LGBT people.’
Alekseev went on to say that the police acted arbitrarily.
‘We will present a video of the arrests in court today,’ he said, adding that if necessary the case would be taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
According to reports from the Interfax news agency, Kiselyov and Nepomnyashiy displayed placards simply saying ‘Gay – this is normal’.