Two Russian men have been arrested for illegally engaging in pro-gay propaganda, in the first-ever enforcement of a homophobic new law that bans making statements supporting homosexuality in public.
Police in St Petersburg arrested the pair as they were standing in a central district of Russia's second-largest city and holding up placards reading Homosexuality is normal. i
This St Petersburg law banning favourable comments about homosexuality is a shame. This law is absolutely discriminatory and it takes away the right to freedom of expression and assembly from citizens of non-traditional orientations, said Tatyana
Lokshina, spokeswoman for the NGO Human Rights Watch.
Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseyev has been fined 5,000 roubles (104 GBP) under a St. Petersburg law for spreading gay propaganda among minors. The fine was imposed after the court ruled that Alekseyev had spread propaganda about
homosexual relations among minors when he held a sign in a public place last month that stated homosexuality was not a perversion. Alekseyev has pledged to appeal the ruling
Charges that Madonna broke a homophobic censorship ban in the Russian city of St Petersburg have been dropped.
Homophobic activists had tried to prosecute the US singer over accusations that she violated St Petersburg's law on the promotion of homosexuality among minors.
The nutter prosecution resulted after Madonna spoke out against the ban on stage and handed out pink bracelets. She also issued a message of support for the imprisoned LGBT-supporting feminist punk protestors of Pussy Riot.
The Trade Union of Russian Citizens demanded £ 6 million from Madonna and from the company that organised her show.
However on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported that the case had been dismissed by a St Petersburg court. Madonna did not attend the hearing, which had attracted intense media attention in Russia.
Elsewhere in Russia, regional lawmakers in Moscow rejected a homophobic censorship law similar to St Petersburg's. The failed bill attempted to outlaw: non-traditional sexual orientation propaganda to minors.
Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, has passed a law imposing heavy fines for providing information about homosexuality to people
The measure was passed unanimously and will become law when approved by the upper house and President Vladimir Putin, a virtual formality.
Under the new law, private individuals promoting homosexual behaviour among minors face fines of up to 5,000 roubles (£100; $155) while officials risk paying 10 times that amount. Businesses and schools could be fined up to 500,000
A recent poll found that nearly half of Russians believe that the gay and lesbian community should not enjoy the same rights as other citizens.
Russia's anti gay 'propaganda' law is having wide and chilling effects on gay film making.
Filmmakers of a film with the translated title of A Winter's Journey have found that the film has been effectively banned despite winning approval by Russia's film censors and winning two prizes at separate film festivals. The film tells the story
of a gay classical singer falling in love with a street-smart petty criminal.
Director Sergei Taramayev told AFP he was saddened it could not be shown at the Kinotavr film festival after receiving such high critical acclaim. He said:
For the organisers of the festival it was uncomfortable, because there is such a law, so they thought it was better not to get involved.
At least people who were in the jury told us that this was the reason why we were not accepted for Kinotavr.
The film's co-writer Lyubov Lvova said festivals feared they could lose funding if they showed the film:
At many festivals, Russian ones, this scared the organisers a lot. They were afraid of this law, that it could stop them getting financing for their festivals.
Taramayev said they did not even submit the film to Russia's main film forum, Moscow International Film Festival, because of its anti-gay organiser, Nikita Mikhalkov. He said:
He supports the government's line and is a very political director and we realised that they would not take us.
Producer Mikhail Karasyov wrote in an email to AFP:
As for a cinema release, at the moment we are holding talks, but so far there is nothing concrete.
Moscow's security department denied an application for the Conchita Wurst March of Bearded Women and Men, which was due to have taken place to mark the 21st anniversary of homosexuality's legalisation in Russia.
Wurst, the drag queen persona of Austria's Thomas Neuwirth, has become an icon for Europe's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and a flashpoint for Russia's debate over gay rights.
Nikolay Alexeyev, founder of Moscow Pride told Pravda that they plan to urgently appeal the mayor's decision; even if unsuccessful, they will try to merge the event with a proposed gay pride parade on May 31. They face an uphill battle: in 2012,
Moscow city government enacted a 100-year ban on pride marches.
Russia's anti-gay protesters have been campaigning against Eurovision for weeks, calling it a Europe-wide gay parade . The participation of the obvious transvestite and hermaphrodite Conchita Wurst on the same stage as Russian singers on live
television is blatant propaganda of homosexuality and spiritual decay, said St Petersburg's notorious legislator Vitaly Milonov, who led the drive for Russia's anti-gay laws banning gay information from public speheres.
A children's puppet show has been banned from Russia's prime book festival over claims it promotes homosexuality, a news report said.
Colta.ru culture news website published an open letter from the Culture Ministry, demanding the organizers of the festival to pull The Soul of a Pillow by Olzhas Zhanaidarov from their program.
The play tells the story of a friendship between a pillow, and a boy in a kindergarten.
The ministry also condemned the adult play Herbivores by Maxim Kurochkin, citing its use of expletives. First Deputy Minister Vladimir Aristarkhov spouted: The content of both plays goes against the traditional moral values of Russian culture.
The ministry has no formal authority to ban the works, but said it would pull its name from the festival if the plays remain listed.
Both plays will be rebooked to run at an independent venue, said Colta.ru, organizer of the showings.