Russia: LGBTI activist charged with "homosexual propaganda"
Photo Credit: © Olga Usoltseva
Download PDF of UA 209/17 Russia
Evdokia Romanova, an LBGTI activist from Samara, Russia was charged with “homosexual propaganda” on 26 July for reposting links to the international Youth Coalition for Sexual Reproductive Rights website and to articles that promoted LGBT equality. She will stand trial on 18 September.
On 26 July, LGBTI activist Evdokia Romanova, an active member of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR) from Samara in Central Russia, was called to her local police station to act as a witness for another case the police were investigating. However, on arrival she was questioned and charged under Article 6.21, part 2 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences for “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors using Internet”. She will stand trial on 18 September. If found guilty, she could be fined up to 100,000 roubles (USD 1,750).
In violation of the law, Evdokia Romanova was denied legal representation when questioned and charged by the police. The police also unlawfully refused her and her lawyer access to the casefile, denying them a chance to learn the grounds on which she had been charged. Evdokia Romanova and her lawyer were only able to get access to the casefile materials on 5 September, nearly 6 weeks after she was charged, and only after the case had been referred to Kirov District Court in Samara.
Evdokia Romanova’s casefile reveals that the charges most likely relate to her membership of the YCSRR and that her “crime” was the reposting of links to the YCSRR website and media publications, including a Guardian article on the same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland and a Buzzfeed article on an exhibition in St. Petersburg on Russian LGBTI teens, on her personal Facebook and Russian social media network, VKontakte. Four of the posts date back to 2015 and another to May 2016. The police deemed links to the YCSRR’s own publication, a campaign calling for youth activists to campaign for LGBT rights, to be the most incriminating and the police Centre for the Prevention of Extremism even ordered two experts – one on linguistics and another on psychology, to conduct an examination of the publication. Both experts concluded that the publication contained “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”, with the one who conducted the linguistic examination concluding it was aimed at “forming non-traditional sexual orientation”, “creating appealing image of non-traditional sexual orientation” and “was forming an image of equal value of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations for society.”
Please send an urgent message by email to Russian officials without delay!
* Start with a sentence about yourself to make your message unique.
* Urge authorities to drop the charges against Evdokia Romanova as they stem solely from the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression.
* Call on authorities to abolish the “homosexual propaganda law” as it contravenes Russia’s international obligations to respect the right to freedom of expression.
* Insist that Russian authorities end their targeting of the LGBTI community in Russia through discriminatory laws, policies and practices.
Address your appeals to:
His Excellency Alexander Darchiev
Ambassador for the Russian Federation for Canada
Fax: 1 (613) 236-6342
Please send a copy to:
Human Rights Ombudsman for Samara Region
High Commissioner Olga Dmitrievna Galtsova
Fax: 011 7 846 337 4983
The Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR) was formed at the Hague Youth Forum in February 1999 and organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Population Foundation (WPF) and the Dutch Council on Youth and Population. A number of young people participating in the forum were particularly concerned with the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents and young people. These individuals established the YCSRR to support and sustain young people’s efforts towards the realization of their sexual and reproductive rights.
The law prohibiting “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” – also known as the ‘homosexual propaganda law’, was passed in Russia in June 2013. It introduced Article 6.21 into the Russian Code of Administrative Offences providing hefty fines for those who, according to the authorities, promoted “non-traditional sexual relations”. Amnesty International believes that the law violates freedom of expression and has been campaigning for its abolition. The law has had a negative impact on the work of LGBTI organizations and individual LGBTI activists alike. Since its introduction in 2013, several people, including LGBTI activists Nikolay Alexeev, Nikolay Baev and Alexey Kiselev, were fined under this law. In January 2014 these three activists submitted a case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) claiming that their rights under the European Convention of Human Rights had been violated. In June 2017, the Court ruled that Russia violated Article 10 (right to freedom of expression) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention and that it must pay compensation to the activists. Russia is appealing the decision.
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