A Russian teenager is the first minor prosecuted under the anti-gay laws

16-year-old Maxim Neverov was fined 50,000 rubles

A Russian teenager has become the first minor prosecuted under the country’s ‘gay propaganda’ laws. 16-year-old Maxim Neverov, from Biysk, was taken to court and fined 50,000 rubles (£580), as reported by campaign organisation the Russian LGBT Network.

Neverov was convicted of ‘propaganda of homosexuality among minors’, after posting images on Russian social network VKontakte. The police report, from late July, highlights that Neverov’s page included “some pictures (photos) of young men whose appearance (partly nude body parts) had the characteristics of propaganda of homosexual relations according to the expert opinion”.

Neverov was one of the main organisers for the tongue-in-cheek ‘Gays for Putin’ rallies – the group submitted 12 applications to cities in Russia for the satirical event, all of which were rejected. This ruling against Neverov is thought to have been aggravated by his involvement. The 16-year-old student was not given the opportunity to consult his lawyer, and thus refused to testify at his trial. 

“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. Maxim Neverov is 16 years old; he is a schoolchild,” a statement from the Russian LGBT Network said. 

The ‘gay propaganda’ law has been in place since 2013, aiming to “prevent children from forming non-traditional sexual predispositions” and keep “traditional family values”. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the law was discriminatory and affected Russian citizen’s free speech back in 2017. It has been widely criticised by human rights organisations worldwide.

Neverov’s lawyer asserted that the ruling violates his right to freedom of expression, and pointed to several violations during the trial – video and photography were banned, and though it was a public meeting, visitors including Neverov supporters were not allowed inside. An appeal has been submitted by his lawyer Artem Lapov.

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