Prominent Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekeyev became the first to be convicted Friday under a St. Petersburg city ordinance that prohibits the spreading "homosexual propaganda" to minors. Alekeyev was arrested last month [JURIST report] for picketing in front of city hall with a sign that said "homosexuality is not perversion." As a result of his conviction [AP report], Alekeyev was fined 5,000 rubles (USD $170). The court has not given any grounds for his conviction but said they will be made available next week. Yuri Gavrikov, head of St. Petersburg's LGBT group Equality, however, said there were no children around when Alekeyev was picketing and claimed his conviction was "absurd." People who oppose the new law, which was introduced in November and signed into law [JURIST reports] last month, claim it will prevent gay rights groups from being able to assemble in public. Alekeyev said he plans to appeal the ruling.
The Russian parliament last month introduced a similar bill that would outlaw spread of "homosexual propaganda" to minors. It would impose a fine of 500,000 rubles ($16,500 USD) on anyone who promotes the homosexual lifestyle, including media outlets that lawmakers have accused of making homosexual lifestyles "normal behavior." In 2008, Moscow police arrested several gay activists [JURIST report] who were celebrating the anniversary of passage of a 1993 law that ended prosecution for homosexuality in the country. They were arrested pursuant to a local ban on gay pride parades, which had been upheld by a Russian court [JURIST reports] the previous year.