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Activist fined for speaking out in support of gay community

Russia's top gay activist Nikolay Alexeyev, seen here getting arrested in Moscow in 2010 while protesting for gay rights, has just been fined under a new law for spreading
Russia's top gay activist Nikolay Alexeyev, seen here getting arrested in Moscow in 2010 while protesting for gay rights, has just been fined under a new law for spreading "gay propaganda"

RFE/RL / DEMOTIX

A Russian gay rights activist is believed to have become the first person to be punished under a municipal law for distributing "gay propaganda", report Index on Censorship and news reports.

A city court in St. Petersburg fined Nikolai Alekseyev 5,000 Rubles (US $170) after ruling that Alekseyev had spread propaganda about homosexual relations among minors when he held a sign at a rally last month that said, "Homosexuality is not a perversion. What is a perversion is field hockey and ice dancing."

According to Salon.com, Alekseyev has also been detained and roughed up in prison, and threatened with more of the same should he speak out for the LGBT community.

The St. Petersburg law, adopted in February, is the model for a bill that has been submitted to the lower house of Parliament, which could be applied nationwide if approved, said "The New York Times".

Alekseyev has pledged to appeal the ruling.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment among many Russians remains strong.

For the seventh year in a row, Alekseyev and others have applied for a permission to hold a gay pride parade on 27 May, where the main theme of the event will be bans on "gay propaganda", reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Permission will most likely be rejected just as all previous applications have been.

"If the Moscow authorities do not offer us anything, we will hold the parade without an agreement and file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights," Alekseyev told RFE/RL.

That court has previously ruled that Russia's ban on gay pride parades violates the European Convention and ordered Russia to pay compensation.

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