Russian Court Fines Children-404 Founder for Violating LGBT Propaganda Law
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today said the decision of a Russian district court finding Lena Klimova, founder of the online LGBT youth support group Children-404, guilty of violating Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law is an important reminder that Russia’s propaganda law will continue to have a harsh impact on the rights of LGBT people. Klimova was convicted despite being prevented access to legal counsel, due to her lawyer’s illness, the day of the court’s decision. She will face a fine of 50,000 rubles.
“It’s been nearly a year since the Sochi Olympics brought international attention to the situation for Russia’s LGBT community. While much is happening in the world, it is crucial that we not move on to the next issue and ignore what is happening in Russia, particularly when neighboring countries such as Kyrgyzstan appear to be following suit,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “Russian activists who are standing up for justice and human rights for all still face persecution and we must continue to support their efforts.”
Last year, Klimova was acquitted by the same court for her work with Children-404, an online forum for Russian-speaking LGBT teens to write openly and anonymously about their daily lives and hardships. The site posts letters from LGBT teenagers, including coming out stories, and organizes online chats with LGBT community leaders. Klimova created Children-404 in March 2013 out of concern for the effects that the then-new propaganda law would have on young people. In addition to providing a refuge for teens, the site has information for adults about discrimination LGBT teens face.
The original case was brought against Klimova by request of St. Petersburg Legislative Assemblyman, Vitaly Milonov. Following last year’s ruling, he vowed to appeal. Milonov has repeatedly referred to members of the LGBT community as “perverts” and “sickos.”
Since the passage of the 2013 discriminatory propaganda law, members of LGBT community have faced harassment from government officials, threats of violence, and imprisonment for peaceful public demonstrations. Human Rights First continues to urge the Obama Administration to appoint a special envoy for the human rights of LGBT people within the State Department to stand as a statement of the U.S. commitment to the human rights of LGBT people worldwide. In addition, the organization recently released a Blueprint titled “How to Stop Russia from Exporting Homophobia.”