Russian Web page creator faces fine for online speech supporting homosexuality

RIA Novosti reported Friday. (Note that the headline for a CNN story based on the RIA Novosti report, “Editor, LGBT support group founder fined under Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law,” appears to be mistaken — the RIA Novosti report says that charges were filed, not that a fine has already been imposed.)

The creator of an online support group for Russian gay teenagers faces a fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($2,800) for “gay propaganda,” activists said Friday.

The case against Lena Klimova was opened at the request of Vitaly Milonov, an ultraconservative regional lawmaker who has spearheaded anti-gay legislation in Russia….

The group publishes personal statements by Russian gay teens on their struggle for acceptance and against homophobia in the country’s conservative provinces.

The group, created by Klimova, inveigles teens into questioning their sexuality, Milonov said.

“Without such groups, no kids like that would exist,” said Milonov ….

Police charged her with violating a June law that prohibits “promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” she said ….

According to RIA Novosti, this is the fifth case under the law, though the first against “a Russian media outlet.” Here’s a statement from Klimova, as quoted by BaltInfo (translation mine):

What promotion of nontraditional sexual relations? You read what these children are writing about. They are beaten in school, raped, parents lock them out of their homes, they are degraded, insulted. Their life is very hard. And now LGBT adolescents risk being deprived of the only place where they can get support. That is horrifying.

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
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Eugene Volokh · February 3