Civil rights defenders say Russian anti-propaganda law violates free expression


In an article published to their blog, the Civil Rights Defenders, an independent group of experts dedicated to the defense of human rights, called the Russian law “a clear violation of freedom of expression and assembly.”

The response comes after the recent sentencing of two LGBT activists, Nikolai Alexeyev, the co-founder of the Moscow Gay Pride Movement, and Yaroslav Yevtushenko, by a court in Northern Russia for carrying a banner with the slogan “Gay propaganda does not exist. People do not become gay, people are born gay.”

The activists were the first to be penalized by a court under the federal law, which prevents the promotion of unconventional relationships to minors. After being arrested in front of the Children’s Library in Arkhangelsk, where they were picketing the anti-propaganda law, they were put on trial and fined 4,000 rubli (about $122).

“This is a clear violation of freedom of expression and assembly of these LGBT-activists,” said Joanna Kurosz, program director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Civil Rights Defenders, in an article posted on December 10.

“This law has opened up for systematic violations of basic human rights of LGBT-people and the Russian lawmakers should amend it immediately to comply with international standards and the Russian constitution,” she continued.

At their trial, both LGBT activists refused to plead guilty, and announced their intention to appeal the decision to the Regional Court in the city of Arkhangelsk.

“The verdicts open the way for appealing the ban on gay propaganda at Russia’s Constitutional Court and later at the European Court of Human Rights, which is what we are going to do,” said Alexeyev after the trial, according to the Moscow Times.


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