MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian LGBT activist said she was fined 75,000 roubles ($1,000) on Friday on charges of spreading “gay propaganda” among minors by publishing drawings of same-sex couples with children online.
Yulia Tsvetkova and her lawyer said she was prosecuted over a series of colourful pictures, some showing two men or two women, holding babies or standing with young children, sometimes surrounded by rainbow-coloured love hearts.
The court in the eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur confirmed the 27-year-old had been fined under a 2013 law that bans disseminating “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations” among young Russians – legislation condemned by rights groups.
“Today I was fined for posts about discrimination and how to fight it, for posts that family is where love is,” Tsvetkova told Reuters.
Her lawyer Alexei Bushmakov said Tsvetkova was also awaiting trial on separate charges of producing and disseminating pornography – offences punishable with up to six years in jail. He said investigators had told her not to discuss that case.
Homosexuality in Russia, where the influence of the socially conservative Orthodox Church has grown in recent years, was a criminal offence until 1993, and classed as a mental illness until 1999.
Gay marriage is not recognised and only heterosexual couples can legally adopt children in Russia.
President Vladimir Putin has said he is not prejudiced against gay people, but that he finds a Western willingness to embrace homosexuality and gender fluidity out of step with traditional Russian values.
Tsvetkova has built up an online following with her colourful drawings that she says promote LGBT rights and celebrate the female body. Many are published on Facebook and the Russian social media site Vkontakte.
Her prosecution has sparked a wave of support among activists and artists in Russia and abroad. Dozens of women were arrested in Moscow last month at a protest against her trial.
Russian LGBT Network, the country’s most prominent gay rights campaign group, called charges against Tsvetkova “nonsense”.
“Russian homophobia… is largely an outcome of authorities’ homophobic policies,” said Svetlana Zakharova, one of the group’s board members.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; Additional reporting by Anastasia Adasheva; Editing by Andrew Heavens)