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Russian gay rights activist fined under ‘homosexual propaganda law’

Russian gay rights activist fined under ‘homosexual propaganda law’

Evdokia Romanova

Russian authorities have fined a woman £660 ($789) for posting LGBTI news stories on her Facebook.

Evdokia Romanova posted stories from the Guardian about same-sex marriage in Ireland and Buzzfeed about an LGBT art exhibition in 2015 and 2016.

She was called to the police station on 26 July 2017 by government officials to submit a witness testimoney.

But, Romanova had not heard of the case she was acting witness to.

The police informed her on arrival she was under investigation for an administrative penalty.

They asked her to sign the case protocol at the station.

Evdokia Romanova was denied legal assistance when questioned and charged by the police.

When Romanova gained access to a lawyer, they were originally denied access to the case materials.

Police allowed them to see the documents on 5 September.

She rejected the charges and refused to submit her testimony.

Evdokia Romanova told Amnesty International: ‘I have lost the feeling of security in this country.

‘I have been receiving threats from people I don’t know.’

The Police Centre for the Prevention of Extremism ordered an ‘expert’ examination of one link she posted as part of the legal proceedings.

The link was a Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights post calling for young activists to campaign for LGBTI rights

Gay propaganda law claims to ‘protect’ children

Government officials found Romanova guilty of the administrative offense of ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors using the internet.’

Romanova continued:  ‘This law has caused the rise of hate crimes towards LGBT people all over the country.

‘It prevents LGBT organizations from providing legal and psychological support to young LGBT people, who remain marginalized and unprotected.’

She works for Samara Regional Public LGBT Movement (Avers), a Russian LGBTI non-profit.

The government targeted Romanova because of her human rights work, Avers believes.

Svetlana Zakharova of the Russian LGBT Network told Stonewall: ‘For a long time, the Russian authorities have claimed that the so-called “propaganda law” was adopted in order to “protect” children.

‘But this case clearly shows that it has nothing to do with children.

Police now use this law to silence activists, claims Zakharova.

President Putin signed the ‘gay propaganda law’ in 2013.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled the law as discriminatory.

Romanova is an active member of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

Denis Krivosheyev is Amnesty’s deputy director for Europe and Central Asia.

He said: ‘The homosexual propaganda law is being used as an instrument to spread fear and uncertainty among LGBTI activists across the country.’

Amnesty International is calling for Russian authorities to ‘abolish their draconian “homosexual propaganda law.”‘