NIZHNY TAGIL, Russia — A Russian court on Friday dismissed the case against a freelance journalist who founded an online LGBT teen support group, ruling that it found no evidence that she had been promoting “non-traditional sexual relations.”
Elena Klimova had been charged for violating the country’s anti-gay propaganda law for creating the “Children 404” group on Russian social media website VKontakte (vk.com).
The name of Klimova’s group is a reference to the internet protocol “Error 404, Page Not Found,” inferring that LGBT Russian youth are unable to be visible. (Klimova maintains a “Children 404″ page on Facebook as well.)
The online group publishes letters from teens who are exposed to violence and harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, bullying by peers and misunderstanding by parents. To date, more than one thousand letters have been published.
The case against Klimova had been brought after anti-gay St. Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonow filed a complaint last month alleging that he considered that the letters to be “gay propaganda” that violated Russia’s anti-gay law.
Milonow demanded the closure of the project and fines for Klimova.
In an e-mail statement, Klimova said, “The Court [hearing] went perfectly. The judge listened to me, a lawyer (Maria Kozlovsky), my expert witness (Dmitry Vinokurov, Director, Center for Family Therapy and Counseling) and decided to dismiss the case due to the absence of corpus delicti. Of course, I am very glad, because I expected the worst.”
Article continues belowKlimova established the online community in March of 2013. She said the project was created after she published an article about LGBT teenagers’ problems and began receiving messages from teen teenagers on her personal VK page.
“At least every third LGBT teenager in Russia thought about suicide, and at least every fifth tried to commit suicide at least once,” said Klimova. “As reason for suicidal thoughts, teenagers name internal homophobia, physical and psychological abuse (including outing) from relatives and acquaintances.”
“Most often suicidal thoughts arise if a teenager is lonely and has nobody to talk to and to trust. On the contrary, those with reliable friends or accepting parents almost never think about suicide,” she said.