Teenager becomes first minor prosecuted under Russia’s anti-gay 'propaganda' laws

Maxim Neverov reportedly fined by authorities over images posted on social network VKontakte

Tom Barnes
Saturday 11 August 2018 18:32 BST
Maxim Neverov was convicted after 'expert opinion' deemed images he posted on social media to be 'gay propaganda'
Maxim Neverov was convicted after 'expert opinion' deemed images he posted on social media to be 'gay propaganda' (Russian LGBT Network)

A schoolboy has become the first minor to be prosecuted under Russia’s strict “gay propaganda” laws.

Maxim Neverov, a 16-year-old from the city of Biysk, was reportedly fined £50,000 rubles (£580) by a court, according to campaign group the Russian LGBT Network.

The organisation said a police report filed in July claimed the teenager had posted several images of “partly nude” men on the social network VKontakte.

It added the images had been determined to have “the characteristics of propaganda of homosexual relations”, according to an “expert opinion”.

The Russian LGBT Network, which also provided a lawyer to represent Maxim, said authorities may have pursued charges following the teenager’s involvement in an event called “Gays or Putin”.

He and other organisers reportedly submitted 12 applications to hold events around Biysk, all of which were rejected by the city.

“Maxim Neverov points to the absurdity of the fact that the proceedings for propaganda among minors were initiated against a minor, but he expected such a decision,” the network said in a statement.

“Maxim Neverov is 16 years old; he is a schoolchild.”

The teenager’s lawyer, Artem Lapov, said the decision by the court violated his client’s right to freedom of expression.

He said he intended to appeal the decision, claiming Maxim’s friends and supporters were barred from attending the hearing, while the recording of proceedings were also forbidden.

Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” rules were agreed by the State Duma in 2013 and later signed into law by president Vladimir Putin.

The stated aim of the laws is to “protect” minors from being exposed to content that presents homosexuality as being a norm in society.

Moscow claims the rules uphold “traditional family values” by “preventing children from forming non-traditional sexual predispositions”.

The laws have received widespread criticism from campaign groups and human rights organisations.

Kyle Knight, of Human Rights Watch, said the law was a "flimsy excuse to discriminate against LGBT people".

In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the legislation was discriminatory and restricted the free speech of Russian citizens.

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