Russians charge 24 y.o. under anti-gay propaganda law

Russia’s new anti-gay “propaganda” law has found a new victim: 24 year old Dmitry Isakov.

On July 30, Isakov staged a one-man protest in the center of the town of Kazan, Russia, holding a sign reading, “Being gay and loving gays is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is a crime!”

The news came out of Russia yesterday that a Russian teen allegedly told his mother that he’d seen images of Isakov’s protest online, and prosecutors are now using that as the basis to charge Isakov.

The Russian authorities have now confirmed activists’ worst fears that any “gay propaganda” by Olympic athletes, guests and media at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia that is broadcast on the Internet will be cause for the arrest and persecution of Olympic attendees.

Russian LGBT leader Masha Gessen, who is working with a coalition of nearly three dozen Russian activists, under the rubric of RUSA LGBT, to fight Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.

Russian LGBT leader Masha Gessen, who is working with a coalition of nearly three dozen Russian activists, under the rubric of RUSA LGBT, to fight Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.

Adding to the concern, under the overly-vague law simply being benignly openly gay, holding your husband’s hand in public, hugging your spouse after a gold medal victory, or simply being identified in public with your same-sex spouse could be considered illegal “propaganda” under the new law.

If any of that is broadcast anywhere on the Internet, you will be a criminal under a Russian law that the Interior Ministry and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko have both repeatedly confirmed will be applied to Olympic athletes.

Ironically, not 24 hours before Isakov was charged, embattled Russian gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev gave a Kremlin propaganda network the encouraging news that Russia’s anti-gay law would not be applied in practice:

NIKOLAI ALEXEYEV: “Let’s just make it clear, one thing. Is that there is a law that has legal implications, and there is a law that has social implications.  And this is absolutely different stuff.  Legal implications: I can tell you this law is not applied in practice. The regional laws, which are absolutely similar to the federal one, are not applied in practice.”

Not more than twenty-four hours later, Isakov was charged under the discriminatory law.

Alexeyev, dogged for years by accusations of anti-Semitism, has been facing mounting questions about his future as a credible voice on human rights. A situation only made worse last week by Alexeyev’s claim on Facebook and Twitter that Jewish vodka is made from sperm, and his retweet of a vile comment that LGBT publication OUT magazine is a “jewish slut magazine that supports jews and their filthy faggotry propaganda.”

Alexeyev has refused to apologize for, or even acknowledge, the deplorable comments.  (Alexeyev is also, oddly, now claiming that the Facebook and Twitter accounts in his name may be fakes created by people impersonating him, while at the same time those accounts just issued a new call for money donations, which means such donations may be going to an impersonator, or worse, the Russian government .)

Alexeyev’s now-open embrace of anti-Semitic hate has not, however, stopped international “human rights” group Human Rights First from continuing to embrace and promote him, including a Human Rights First public conference call that Alexeyev is keynoting this week. (News of Alexeyev’s involvement in the call came immediately following last week’s anti-Semitic outburst.)

No word from Human Rights First on whether Jewish sperm vodka is on the agenda.

Regardless, it is now clear that the Russian authorities will, and have, applied the anti-gay propaganda law “in practice,” and that once again the concerns of nearly-three dozen Russian LGBT activists about this law, and about the need for a concerted international response, have been confirmed.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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