First Arrests After St. Petersburg’s Gay Ban: Two Russian Activists Holding “Gay Is Normal” Signs

St. Petersburg flexed the muscle of its new anti-gay law for the first time yesterday when two LGBT activists were arrested for holding signs that said “Gay Is Normal.” They weren’t standing together or shouting slogans, but “public promotion of homosexuality” is now illegal in the city,. The men could be subject to a fine of $170–$17,000.

Reports the St. Petersburg Times:

Alexei Kiselyov and Kirill Nepomnyashy were arrested outside the Palace of Youth Creativity holding signs bearing the words, “Gay is normal,” police told Interfax. Police said the pair was conducting so-called one-man pickets — which do not require City Hall approval — meaning that they were not standing together or yelling slogans.

Under a St. Petersburg law that took effect last month, anyone found guilty of promoting homosexuality among minors is to be fined from 5,000 to 500,000 rubles. The law has been condemned by domestic and international human rights advocates and gay activists, and by Western governments.

A hearing to determine whether they will be fined is set for today—we’ll update you when we hear the results.