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Russian high court rules against LGBT activist, upholds ‘gay propaganda’ law

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
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MOSCOW — Russia’s highest court has ruled that a controversial law banning “gay propaganda” is not in breach of that nation’s Constitution.

Nikolai Alexeyev

Nikolai Alexeyev

The Constitutional Court dismissed a complaint from Nikolai Alexeyev, a leading LGBT rights activist, that the St. Petersburg, Russia, city council had acted unconstitutionally by passing legislation to ban the promotion of “non traditional sexual relationships” to minors.

St. Petersburg’s law took effect March 2012 — a national law patterned after the St. Petersburg law was signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin in June 2013.

The local ordinance calls for fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($150) for individuals and up to 500,000 rubles ($15,000) for organizations.

The Constitutional Court’s ruling followed a fine imposed on Alexeyev by a city court in St. Petersburg in May 2012 for holding up a poster of a quote by a famous Soviet-era actress Faina Ranevskaya; it read: “Homosexuality is not a perversion, unlike grass hockey or ice ballet.”

Alexeyev had asked the court to rule that the law was based on prejudice and permitted discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation.

But the justices ruled that Russia’s constitution obliged the State to protect motherhood, childhood and family.

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In its ruling, the court determined lawmakers were mandated to “take measures to protect children from information, propaganda and campaigns that can harm their health and moral and spiritual development.”

Legislation to ban the promotion of “non traditional sexual relationships” fell within the scope of the constitutional duty of lawmakers, the court said.

It also dismissed Alexeyev’s complaint that the law was discriminatory, saying the ban applied equally to LGBT people and heterosexual people and “did not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation.”

The high court decision was made on October 24, but only released publicly Tuesday.

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