On Aug. 7, a 16-year-old Russian teen became the first minor found guilty under the country’s gay propaganda law. The teen, who hails from the central-southern Russian city of Biysk, was accused of publishing homoerotic pictures on the Russian social network VKontakte. But the Russia LGBT Network suspects that his conviction is actually connected to the teen’s LGBTQ activism rather than the photos themselves.
According to the Russia LGBT Network, a July 24 report filed by the Commission on Minors and the Protection of Minors’ Rights said that the teen published “some pictures (photos) of young men whose appearance (partly nude body parts) had the characteristics of propaganda of homosexual relations according to the expert opinion.”
The Russian teen was fined 50,000 rubles ($762 US) as punishment.
The Network suspects Russian law enforcement agencies of paying special attention to the teen because last May he helped stage a public performance entitled Gays or Putin. The performance attracted a deal of public attention and was even discussed in the Russian federal legislative assembly known as the Duma.
The Russian teen had submitted 12 applications to city administrators for permission to stage the performance. The city refused to grant him a permit. He also tried to organize a local Pride parade.
The Russian teen was reportedly denied access to a lawyer after his arrest and, as a result, refused to testify at his trial. The Network says that the trial failed to prove that the teen posted the photos in question. They also add that an appeal is under consideration.
In 2013, Russia passed it infamous national law banning any public displays of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships.” The gay propaganda law caused a massive outcry as Russia began to crackdown on LGBTQ activism online and off.