News Brief

Russian Teenager Convicted for Spreading “Gay Propaganda”

A Russian schoolboy has become the first minor to be prosecuted and convicted under the country’s controversial “gay propaganda” legislation. Sixteen-year-old Maxim Neverov was found guilty of posting pictures of half-naked men on VKontakte, Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, and fined 50,000 rubles ($750), according to the Russian LGBT Network campaign group.

The so-called “anti-gay propaganda law was introduced in 2013, purportedly to protect minors from efforts to promote “non-traditional sexual relations.” But critics say the law was unnecessary—and instead has led to widespread discrimination and even violence against members of the LGBTQ community across Russia and other former Soviet states that have introduced their own version of the legislation—including Kyrgyzstan.

Prosecutors said Maxim’s pictures had “characteristics of propaganda of homosexual relations.”

However, the Russian LGBT Network believes that charging Neverov over the photos was just a pretext. He was one of the organizers of an event called “Gays for Putin” — a parade through which the Russian LGBT community wished to express their “support” of Vladimir Putin.

The event had been planned for May 2018, but never took place as the organizers were not given permission to hold the rally.

In an interview with Dutch broadcaster NOS, Neverov said that he had raised the money for the fine via crowdfunding. The Russian LGBT Network provided him with a lawyer who is currently appealing against the sentence.