Russia’s highest court rules gay ‘propaganda’ law does not breach constitution

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Russia’s highest court has ruled that a law banning gay “propaganda” is not in breach of the country’s constitution.

On Wednesday it was revealed that the Constitutional Court had dismissed a complaint from Nikolai Alexeyev, a leading Russian LGBT rights campaigner, that St Petersburg city council had acted unconstitutionally by passing legislation to ban the “promotion of homosexuality among minors.”

The court’s ruling was made on 24 October, but only released publicly to Russian media yesterday.

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

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

According to RIA in their ruling judges declared Russia had a duty to “take measures to protect children from information, propaganda and campaigns that can harm their health and moral and spiritual development”.

In a separate case, a court in the northern city of Murmansk fined Mr Alexeyev and fellow activist Yarosvlav Yevtushenko 4,000 rubles each on Tuesday. The two men had reportedly been convicted for holding up banners outside a children’s library that read: “gay propaganda doesn’t exist. People don’t become gay, people are born gay”.

A federal bill banning gay “propaganda” was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in June.

It prescribes fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18 – ranging from 4,000 roubles (£78) for an individual to 1m roubles (£19,620) for organisations.

In September, Mr Putin insisted that the legislation only bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors,” and argued that there was “no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities.”

In a fresh attempt to dismiss concerns about LGBT athletes attending February’s Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi, President Putin last month declared he was against “hatred” towards people of a “non-traditional sexual orientation” – whilst continuing to support the country’s homophobic legislation.

St Petersburg was among the first to adopt a local version of the law in 2012.