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Russia gay rights activist challenges 'homosexual propaganda' law

Prominent Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekeyev on Wednesday filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] challenging a St. Petersburg city ordinance that prohibits the spreading "homosexual propaganda" to minors. Alekeyev alleges that the ordinance violates [RAPSI report] Article 10 and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text]. Last month, Alekeyev became the first to be convicted [JURIST report] under the controversial ordinance, which imposes fines on individuals for promoting homosexuality, including gays or lesbians who are open about their sexuality in public. Alekeyev was arrested in April [JURIST report] for picketing in front of city hall with a sign that said "homosexuality is not perversion." As a result of his conviction, Alekeyev was fined 5,000 rubles (USD $170). People who oppose the new law, which was introduced in November and signed into law [JURIST reports] in March, claim it will prevent gay rights groups from being able to assemble in public. Alekeyev said he expects the court to process his complaint within a week.

The Russian parliament in March introduced a similar bill [JURIST report] that would create a nationwide ban on the 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.

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