Russian High Court rules against LGBT Activist and upholds 'gay propaganda' law
MOSCOW -- Russia’s highest court has ruled that a controversial law banning “gay propaganda” is not in breach of that nation's Constitution.
The Constitutional Court dismissed a complaint from Nikolai Alexeyev, a leading LGBT rights activist, that the St. Petersburg, Russia city council had acted unconstitutionally by passing legislation to ban the promotion of " non traditional sexual relationships" to minors.
St. Petersburg's law took effect March 2012 which was followed by a national law banning the same based on the St. Petersburg law signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June of this year. The local ordinance calls for fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($150) for individuals and up to 500,000 rubles ($15,000) for organisations.
The Constitutional Court’s ruling followed a fine imposed on Alexeyev by a city court in St. Petersburg in May 2012 for holding up a poster of a quote by a famous Soviet-era actress Faina Ranevskaya. It read: “Homosexuality is not a perversion, unlike grass hockey or ice ballet.”
Alexeyev had asked the court to rule that the law was based on prejudice and permitted discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation. But the justices decided that Russia's Constitution obliged the State to protect motherhood, childhood and family.
In its ruling the court wrote that lawmakers were mandated to “take measures to protect children from information, propaganda and campaigns that can harm their health and moral and spiritual development”. It noted that in its opinion the legislation to ban the promotion of " non traditional sexual relationships law fell within the scope of the constitutional duty of lawmakers.
It also dismissed Alexeyev’s complaint that the law was discriminatory, saying the ban applied equally to LGBT people and heterosexual people and "did not discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation."
The high court decision was made on October 24, but only released publicly Tuesday.
The Kremlin maintains that the law aims to protect children and does not prevent adults from making their own choices.
President Putin recently has insisted that there will be no “discrimination against LGBT people on any basis whatsoever” including at the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi, in answer to mounting international criticism of the law.