Nikolai Alexeyev has been at the forefront of the gay-rights movement in Russia for years. Now he’s the first to have been convicted under St. Petersburg’s new gay-propaganda law, which outlaws exposing minors to “deformed notions of social equality of traditional and nontraditional marital relations.”
In April, Alexeyev was arrested for picketing St. Petersburg City Hall with a sign that read: “Homosexuality is not a perversion. Perversion is hockey on the grass and ballet on ice.”
He was found guilty on Friday and faces a fine of $167. (Fines can go as high as $16,700.) He tells the Los Angeles Times of his conviction:
“In a way I am glad they passed a guilty sentence and opened this Pandora’s box… Now we will fight this homophobic verdict in every court and go all the way to Strasbourg if need be to try and break this caveman mentality which throws Russia back to the dark ages,” he said referring to the European Court of Human Rights in France.
Several arrests were reported on May Day, a traditional day of activism in Russia and Europe, and at least two other people were arrested on April 4 for holding signs that said “Gay Is Normal.”