Activists detained for taking part in a Pride march in St. Petersburg have received their court decision this week.
30 participants were detained for trying to set an LGBTI march in Russia’s second-largest city on 4 August.
Despite the event was due to take place on the day, Russian authorities refused to permit the festivities and arrested the activists upon their arrival to Palace Square.
The court’s decision
The court ruled that 13 of the 30 detainees will receive fines.
According to Remy Bonny, a political scientist specialized in LGBTI-issues in post-communist countries, the fine is in most cases 5,000 rubles, an amount which corresponds to $73.
Six of the participants were underage, so the Russian Commission for the Affair of Minors will handle their cases. They will be registered, but no administrative procedure will be started.
Two cases were sent back to the police, while only one participant was released.
Eight activists are still waiting for their verdict
Eight other participants are still waiting for their verdict, but ‘it is very likely they will also receive a fine of 5000 rubles,’ said Aleksei Nazarov.
Nazarov is the organizer St. Petersburg Pride.
Activists also tried to organize the first legal LGBTI Pride in the country last month. Despite the initial approval, local authorities banned the march after only 24 hours.
‘I feel depressed after every ruling, but it also makes me even more combative. We will appeal all the rulings at the Court of Second Instance’, Nazarov also said.
‘If the Court of Second Instance does not agree with us, we will bring it to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.”
St. Petersburg Pride will work together with Exit, an organization advocating for LGBT rights and working with specialized lawyers.
Anti-propaganda law in Russia
Those identifying as LGBTI experience constant discrimination in Russia.
Although same-sex sexual intercourse became legal in 1993, Russia doesn’t recognize same-sex couples.
‘Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian society experienced an identity crisis. Before, their internal enemy was religion. Now, it is non-traditionalism. LGBTI people are seen as the internal enemy of the Russian Federation,’ said Bonny.
Bonny also explained how many perceive Russia’s ‘external enemy, the West’ to promote this ‘internal enemy’.
In 2013 the Russian Parliament adopted an anti-propaganda law for LGBTI-related issues.
‘This basically killed all LGBT activism in Russia,’ he said.
Neo-nazi groups attack young LGBTI people
He said that neo-nazi groups attack gay teenagers amid the government’s indifference.
‘In Chechnya, a member state of the Russian Federation, local authorities even tortured and murdered hundreds of gay men.’
‘Unfortunately, the fact that the activists are receiving fines does not really surprise me,’ Bonny told Gay Star News.
‘Last week, even a 16 years old boy received a fine for posting a pro-LGBT image on social media in Russia. Neo-nazi groups like Occupy Pedophilia lure young gays to secret places via dating apps like Grindr to beat them up or even murder them. The police do not really take measures to prevent these youngsters from being attacked.’