Russian LGBTQ Teen advocate charged under anti-gay propaganda law
|Elena Klimova via VK.com|
By Brody Levesque | NIZHNY TAGIL, Russia -- Russian freelance journalist Elena Klimova was charged Friday for violation of the anti gay propaganda law for her creation of the online Russian LGBTQ teen support group, “Children 404,″ on Russian media giant VK.com.(VKontakte) The name is a play on the Internet universal protocol "Error 404, Page Not Found," inferring that LGBTQ Russian youth are unable to be visible.
Klimova, the founder and administrator the page was initially questioned by Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs investigators January 17, after a complaint was filed by Vitaly Milonov, an anti-gay St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly lawmaker.
A spokesperson for the Russian Interior Ministry Friday evening confirmed that Klimova was charged after she;
[...] “had registered a page on VKontakte Internet website that promotes non-traditional sexual relations among minors, expressed in the dissemination of information aimed at developing non-traditional sexual concepts in minors, attractiveness of non-traditional sexual relationships, distorted notions of social equivalence of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations.”
According to the Interior Ministry spokesperson, its investigator found the VK page it to be a violation of the federal law as an offense under Part 2 of Art . 6.21 of the Russian Administrative Code , which prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” also referred to as the anti-gay propaganda law.
In an e-mailed statement to LGBTQ Nation, Klimova stated;
"In light of general trends in the country, I am not surprised. But it is very sad that letters from LGBT teenagers themselves are called "homosexual propaganda among minors".
It is absurd! Milonov, the complaint initiator, has two demands: to fine me and to close the group. If it will be closed, LGBT teenagers will lose the only place where they can openly speak about themselves and receive advice they need to live. It will be a catastrophe.”
Klimova, who lives the city of Nizhny Tagil in the Urals, established the online community "Children-404" in March of 2013. According to her, the project was created after she published an article about LGBT teenagers’ problems and began receiving constant messages from these teenagers on her personal VK page.
On the Children-404 page, teenagers share their personal stories, sometimes very sad and bitter, and speak about about their problems. Often the teens write about about bullying by peers and misunderstanding by parents and at present, more than one thousand letters have been published.
"At least every third LGBT teenager in Russia thought about suicide, and at least every fifth tried to commit suicide at least once," said Klimova. "As reason for suicidal thoughts, teenagers name internal homophobia, physical and psychological abuse (including outing) from relatives and acquaintances.
Most often suicidal thoughts arise if a teenager is lonely and has nobody to talk to and to trust. On the contrary, those with reliable friends or accepting parents almost never think about suicide."
Although the case was investigated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs' Criminal Investigation Department, Russian officials told LGBTQ Nation that an administrative offense versus a criminal complaint was charged. Officials added that Klimova will be scheduled to be in court for a hearing on the matter in Nizhny Tagil within the next 30 days
Late Friday Klimova reacted to further public statements made by Milonow that her social media group should be recognized as and forced to register as a foreign agent, and that it should not be allowed to engage in politics.
According to Milonow "the very existence of the group contradicts the moral and ethical principles and traditions of the Russian people."
"Given that most likely funding of this group is financed by foreign grants, at least it should be recognized foreign agent," said Milonow.
"It shall be prohibited to engage in politics and, of course, this group should be closed, destroyed, erased forever from all social networks in Russia."
Klimova responded saying that "Milonow is lying again" as she is not involved in politics and that her group had received no funding- particularly any at all from outside the Russian Federation.