Russian court backs St Petersburg’s anti-gay law

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Russia’s Supreme Court has ruled that the country’s second largest city of St Petersburg can continue to enforce its homophobic censorship law.

It equates homosexuality with “paedophilia” and was passed by the city on February 29 of this year – despite more than 270,000 people signing an online petition against the measure.

LGBT rights campaigners had challenged the law, which imposes fines of up to 5,000 rubles (£107) on individuals and up to 500,000 (£10,700) on businesses for promoting LGBT issues.

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia programme director, said in May:

“St Petersburg and other Russian cities must immediately repeal such laws, which are clearly discriminatory in nature and only serve to fuel homophobia.”

Last month, Vitaly Milonov, a St Petersburg councillor and the author of the law, referred to homosexuality as a “bad habit” that can be treated by fasting and prayer on a Russian radio show.

Earlier this year, Mr Milonov gave his backing to a group of anti-gay Russian activists, who announced plans to sue Madonna for $10 million (£6.15 million) after they accused the pop star of insulting their feelings when she spoke out against the law during a concert in the city on August 9.

Yesterday, in the former Soviet state of Ukraine, lawmakers passed a draft LGBT censorship law, which proposes prison terms of up to five years for spreading gay “propaganda”.

Several MEPs have criticised Ukraine over the move, which could undermine the country’s desire to join the EU.