Nikolai Alexeyev First To Be Convicted Under St. Petersburg’s Anti-Gay Law

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.”

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  • Wow

    Is he fined for speaking for gay rights or being gay? Because if it is the latter, how would the courts prove someone’s gayness? Is there a check list?

    Btw. Ballet on ice is figure skating. Hockey on grass is field hockey. No perversion.

  • K!r!lleXXI

    @Wow: It is not against the law here in Russia to be gay since 1993 (before that, you could go to jail for up to 5 years for gay sex), but now it is against the law to talk of homosexuality in any positive or reaffirming way. Publicly, that is. If you come out to the streets with banners that say homosexuality is just as normal as heterosexuality (basically stating FACTS that Russian medical community agrees on due to acceptance of ICD-10), and it is a public place where—gasp!—minors are walking out and about, that will be considered “propaganda of homosexuality among minors”, even though you’re not urging anyone to turn gay or even try that once or twice. These idiots think that teenagers are so fragile they cannot make up their minds, so if they see any declaration that gay is OK, they might immediately turn into rainbow lovers. Which, of course, is the most horrible thing that can happen to our precious children! (Gasp!) Don’t mind those gay teens that kill themselves over here all the time (it just never makes the news like in the US), who’s gonna protect them from homophobia and bullying? I hate this fucked-up country, honestly… Can’t wait to get the hell out of here.

  • Raziel

    good man- so difficult and lonely to be among the first to do such a powerful and frightening thing. i’ve been watching (and signing petitions) on the very issue for a a while now and i’m glad it’s getting more media attention though the main stream press continues to keep it’s head in the sand…

  • cam

    Brave man.

    Russia has massive alcohol problems, employment problems, and it relies so heavily on it’s export of resources rather than higher level manufacterint that it has been jolingly referred to in the past as “Uganda with Nuclear Missles”.

    So rather than dealing with that…yeah, lets just attack the gays.

  • K!r!lleXXI

    Yeah, Alexeyev deserves some significant credit. Too bad there is a serious shortage of people who are ready to come out to stand by his side. I’ve been to one gay club in Moscow: hundreds of queers having fun… If only one time all of them would come out to the streets and show the same zeal in protecting their rights to their very existence, we would be living in a very different country. That is why this year I’m going to Moscow gay pride for the first time, maybe if this year there will be 11 of us instead of usual 10, next year we may have 12 people, and so on. Oh, this is so pathetic. But somebody has to do it. We all have to.

  • dewin

    Some US organization should invite him to speak with a paid tour-

  • Triple S

    @K!r!lleXXI: I’m sorry about your, and so many other Russians predicament in that country. It’s so frustrating only being able to look in from a glass window. As a 17 year old, I haven’t seen all there is to be seen, but I can see the travesty and blatant cruelty of so many people in so many different countries.

    I know a gay pride parade in Russia may not be as effective as it might here in Australia, but it shows that there is still some fight left in the Russian LGBTs out there.

    heh, it seems a little stupid of me to be saying this to you; some teenager who has not as huge an experience in life than so many commenters here. But I felt I had to say something.

    My coming out process wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it was over and done with bloody fast with no hate from my family and only immature teenagers being stupid about it.

    When I see shit like this, I can only sit in ignorant horror at what so many gay teenagers in Russia must feel and do when they live to see “You are an evil, disgusting animal that should be put down.”

    I hope so much, that Russia either stops living in this decades-old bubble and moves on, or those who can’t live a happy life be allowed to get out of there easier.

    Now, this is all from a teenagers mind, but I know that it won’t be as simple as that. A lot more people will need to suffer, die and be unjustly treated before anything really makes a difference in that caveman country. No offense intended.

    You have my genuine support going forward :)

  • K!r!lleXXI

    @Triple S: Thank you so much for your words of support! It doesn’t matter how old you are or how many experiences you’ve had in life. What matters is a kind heart! I’m 27 and I don’t even know which one of us is more experienced. We all have a right to share our thoughts, especially when we’re comforting and supporting each other in difficult times.

    I came out to my family just a year ago, before that there were long 7 years of hiding from life. I wasn’t just hiding who I am, I was hiding from life itself and from any glimpse of happiness I might have had back then loving another man; instead, I chose to be alone and miserable, which drove me into the most horrible depression that now I have to manage with powerful antidepressants. I do not wish that horror to anyone.

    Thank goodness, my parents were understanding and it didn’t change how they felt about me. For so many years I was afraid they will disown me.

    Now I have hope, and a boyfriend who loves me from 5000 miles away (he lives in the US). Stupid laws do not allow us to be together. This is why marriage equality matters so much: we all should have a right to bring our beloved better halves to our countries to be together in sickness and health ’til whatever do us part.

    I only hope things do get better in developed countries like the US and Australia. Keep up the good work and be proud of who you are, it is an awesome feeling! You have all my support I can give!

  • bretticus

    Is there any way for us to help him? What can we do? I think we need to learn a lesson from ACT UP and start ACTING UP when this stuff happens

  • K!r!lleXXI

    @bretticus: Sometimes I get so depressed because I realize there is really nothing that can help. We ourselves need to get off our asses over here in Russia and take it to the streets. But everyone’s afraid, everyone thinks they will lose their jobs and whatnot. We need people on the ground, we need large numbers of people who are mad at these injustices. Nothing else would make a difference. But how do you overcome fear of losing everything in your life and being thrown into jail for speaking your mind? That is the burning question.

  • bretticus

    @K!r!lleXXI: What is becoming increasingly difficult to do, both in The States and elsewhere, is average, everyday, blue-collar workers have lost their economic power. With good jobs and good pay one can afford to put money aside so if push comes to shove one can just quit their job and move on to something else. “Money makes the world go around”…it is true…..but also, one’s education, profession and economic empowerment. If you have money in the bank you can do anything, speak out, protest, write letters, quit. If I were a millionaire I would put together a private SWAT team and go rescue him.

  • nikz

    @K!r!lleXXI: Good luck! it’s …incomprehensible that we can be treated with such inhuman cruelty on a daily basis…..
    we’re being denied every right we have as human beings…..

    thinking about how hard the coming-out process is for most of us….i wish we didnt have to
    deal with it…….we shouldnt have to deal with it…
    i’m so glad your parents were understanding, and that you were able to come out..

    i came out 2 years ago myself…when i was 17.
    my family reacted the way i knew they would….shame…denial….i became a dirty secret.
    i never wanna experience such pain again…for months…i barely slept….i couldn’t
    keep any meal down……..but i had friends that helped me get through all of that..
    my parents are still in happy denial, but i don’t care about their opinions anymore..i’m stubborn…thankfully….i became a topic for gossip…..and most of the people my age..
    the guys…my “friends” all ganged together and said how “F**KING disgusting i am”
    they are pathetic…and i don’t wanna have people like that in my life..
    i wanna be happy…we all deserve that……..

    so again, good luck! to all of us…

  • 1equalityUSA

    You men are breaking my heart. Can you not leave and go where the wind takes you? Don’t make it North Carolina, they’re in the middle of making our authenticity illegal as we speak. Are you not able to leave and live elsewhere?

  • Belize

    @Wow: “Ballet on ice is figure skating.”

    I BEG TO DISAGREE. Contemporary on ice. Maybe. Jazz on ice. Maybe. No perversion but ballet? NO NO NO.

  • Belize

    @K!r!lleXXI: I’m not going to tell you to be strong. I’m not going to tell you to keep fighting. I’m not even going to tell you to stay in that awful place for the sake of yourself and the sake of those who are like you. But I am going to tell you – even though it might be corny and irrelevant to do so – that who you and people like Alexeyev are are people who are worth fighting for; and that is something that, a bunch of misguided religious zealots can NEVER take away from you. That is your gift. You are blessed. You are a cut above any iron-pumping, woman-hating, “macho” American queen who does nothing but yap about his conservative notions on Queerty.

    You should be proud. And if you’re not, we’ll be proud for you.

  • bretticus

    leave…..go to Norway, Switzerland, Canada, US, even Germany….go boi go!

  • Triple S

    @nikz: As I said to K!r!lleXXI, I am so sorry for your predicament. I wish I could snap my fingers and fix everything and more, but I can’t, so all I can do is be informed as much as I can.
    I’ve heard about the problems for gay people in Russia for many years and I understand the pain and trauma for young people coming out sometimes, such as yourself.

    So I must ask, and please don’t feel forced to answer, what exactly did it feel like for you? Coming out I mean. Why did you decide to take the leap and what are/did your parents and ‘friends’ do when they found out?

    Sorry if I’m intruding a bit here, but I’d like to know so I can better understand your, and other gay Russian’s plight.

    You have my support for the future :) <3

  • Danny

    These governments never make sense – it is like shooting themselves in the foot. They just send the message that the area should be trashed – literally. Why would anyone maintain the rule of law under such blatant discrimination? Something as simple and everyday as thousands of people littering will turn it into a garbage-strewn hellhole with smells and flies and disease where noone would want to visit or live. If you think people experiencing human rights violations have any reason to respect such a corrupt government anymore, you don’t know humans very well. Add up the politicians, religious leaders, police, and military personnel who violate human rights, and they pale in comparison to the number of people experiencing human rights violations. Governments should protect everyone’s human rights; otherwise no one has any reason to believe in those governments any longer.

  • 1equalityUSA

    Does anyone find it very strange that neither K!r!lleXXI nor nikz has been heard from again? Are computer accounts being monitored? Odd.

  • K!r!lleXXI

    @1equalityUSA: Actually, I posted a big comment, but it’s been stuck in moderation all day. Shouldn’t have used a link, I guess, or too many letters. I’m still here, still kicking, no signs of KGB in my window :)

  • 1equalityUSA

    Right on, brother. Keep thinking.

  • bretticus

    Yea…do they do that there….would they do that to you?….Dont you worry! Me an my posse are on the way

  • K!r!lleXXI

    They don’t care what I have to say on the internet as long as I don’t get out in front of a public to send my message in person. That’s when the police comes in to arrest everyone involved. Funny thing is that the police never arrests anti-gay activists who beat pro-gay activists right in front of the cameras: they do not have a permission for a gathering just like pro-gay activists, and pro-gay ones do not beat anyone, but, surprisingly, only pro-gay ones get arrested every year and fined $17 to $33 each. Free speech is not free over here, you gotta pay for it with you money. And since it didn’t seem like a lot of money, the government decided to instill new fines amounting up to $170. Yay for Russia! At least gays will bring some money into the coffers, someone’s gotta since it all gets stolen by the government officials.

    Go ahead, bitches, try to prosecute me now for “slender”, same kind of speculations that were thrown out of court when Alexeyev presented his case in St Petersburg. My name is Kirill Voznesensky, I live in Yaroslavl city of Russia. Go ahead, I dare you.

    (Disclaimer: The previous paragraph was addressed to Russian “KGB”, and not to any user of this website. I hope I didn’t break any rules of this website.)

  • bretticus

    OMG…my SWAT team is powerful good but dude, don’t tempt fate :)

  • 1equalityUSA

    K!r!lleXXI, Can you guys leave? Go make a life elsewhere?

  • K!r!lleXXI

    Well, my comment was removed, so I’ll have to repost in parts:

    @bretticus: Money gives people too much power, we can see that by observing all those conservative rich Republicans using their money to pass Proposition 8 and others alike. And the same people had enough power to convince Justices of the SCOTUS that money is free speech and corporations are people (Citizens United case), now those corporations with billions of dollars have the power to influence election outcomes securing their own interests. Money has too much power in our world, it has to be fought and stopped. We all are equal, and this is the society of people who work hard to have happy lives, not of greedy corporations that work hard to become wealthier. What’s more important: happiness or wealth? To every normal human being the answer is painfully obvious.

  • K!r!lleXXI

    @nikz: At every point of history there are outcasts, black sheep, someone who does not conform, that’s our destiny (so to speak), and all we can do is accept it and fight it for the future generations, who, thanks to our efforts, will not have to deal with that anymore. I’m proud to be the outcast of the 21st century, it gives me a chance to make a difference for those in the future who won’t have to go through what I had to go through to come to a place where I can appreciate the value of true freedom that I do not have as of yet.

    As for the family, my family did not turn all gay-supportive, my parents did not join PFLAG (not that we have it here), it is also a shameful dirty little secret, and my mother is still in denial: every time I talk about anything related to gay rights, she pretends to be very busy with something and won’t listen. A couple of weeks ago a story of a 16-year-old gay teen (whose father locked him up in a mental hospital to cure him of gay) made the federal news, and I happened to be near TV to watch that story with my parents… well, my mother pretended to be occupied with her calculations so much that she almost had to do them out loud to divert our attention from the news story. She’s ashamed of me.

    Luckily, I was so depressed I didn’t care what will happen. Honestly, I decided to tell them mostly because I was going to kill myself, and it would really help me take that last step knowing they turned their backs on me. But, surprised as I was, they didn’t change the way they feel about me at all, and so I couldn’t do to them what I was going to do.

    And as for friends, I got rid of all of them in my depressive years because I thought they will all disapprove of me. Now I am rekindling some of those friendships and find out how I was wrong about many of my friends who do not care if I’m gay or not.

  • K!r!lleXXI

    @1equalityUSA: Go where? Do you really think there is a heaven on Earth for gays? I seriously doubt there is a place like that. And what about all the other ones who cannot go, who have to stay and deal with this shit? Are we all, the gays, supposed to just pick up and leave? That’s like being taken to a concentration camp (read: slaughter house), or being driven from the place you call home. Why should we go? Why should we run like there is something wrong with us? When I said I can’t wait to get out of this country, I meant I can’t wait to be with my beloved man who, btw, happens to live in North Carolina (big election there today: they will enshrine discrimination in their Constitution — chances are Amendment 1 will pass). I don’t wanna run FROM something, but I do wanna run TOWARDS happiness, we all deserve it, and happy people are better at fighting for what is right all over the world and not just creating a mythical island of pink unicorns where they can feel safe amongst kindred folk. Gay people will never stop popping up everywhere in the world, in every country, so we cannot just run, we have to fight for their sakes, just like people before us fought for our sakes. Blacks fought for their freedom from slavery, women fought for suffrage, the poor fought to be equal to the rich, and now gays fight to be equal to “breeders.”

  • K!r!lleXXI

    @Belize: I’ll just inform you that those words on Alexeyev’s banner were not his words, he was quoting a famous Russian actress Faina Ranevskaya (for whom many Russians have a lot of respect), and she is known for making that very statement about homosexuality. Alexeyev was showing that the government won’t even allow us to quote a beloved actress because it will be construed as propaganda of homosexuality: that is how insane everything became in Russia. Basic rights for freedom of speech are being violated.

    Yesterday Vladimir Putin was inaugurated a President for the third time, and he swore on the Constitution of Russia (which in its wording is very close to the US Constitution) that he will uphold the law and will make sure people’s rights for freedom of speech and expression are protected, but he is violating the very thing he’s swearing to protect! Hypocritical bastard! I felt sick to my stomach listening to him swear to protect my right for free speech and then taking it away.

    Thank you for your words of support! I AM proud of who I am and I will never again let anyone take that away from me!

  • K!r!lleXXI

    @Triple S: I’m not sure if your question was addressed to me, but since I am Russian, I will respond. Actually, I already answered that question above in this very comment (answering to nikz): I was going to kill myself, so I felt like I had nothing to lose (if my parents accepted me, then great, but if not, I would lose the last safe place I could have, so I wouldn’t have any reason to go on anymore). That was my depressed thinking.


  • K!r!lleXXI

    I’m sure everyone heard by now that Amendment 1 passed by 61%. Very disappointing.

    @1equalityUSA: Leaving and making a life somewhere is not an option for us, we’ve been at it for two years now. The US government denied me a tourist visa even to visit my boyfriend and have maybe three to six months with him there. After that we pulled all our resources and got me into local Raleigh college, I was accepted there because I graduated from my Russian school with honors, but the US government denied me a visa yet again. And going to any other country would be very disruptive and financially difficult for us. We even broke up and he found himself a boyfriend for a couple of months, but these things never work out if you’re in love with someone else. I don’t know what to do. It was a stupid idea to fall in love with a foreigner in the first place, but you do not really choose who to love, now do you?

  • 1equalityUSA

    K!r!lleXXI, I was given to the notion of your leaving when you had said that you hated your country. I cannot imagine feeling so hopeless and frustrated by my own home land. You are so articulate and intelligent. I remember back in 2010, posting comments on an article and your energy and enthusiasm was powerful. Here’s the link:

    I didn’t mean to offend you or diminish your sense of duty to stay and fight for change in your own country. I see you as an asset and would love to see a mind such as yours flourish in our country. Methodical thinkers are gems. Continue thinking and writing and fighting for change. Stay strong.

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