For the first time a prominent Russian gay rights activist, Nikolai Alexeyev, has been condemned to a 5,000 rubles ($169) fine under a new law which makes it illegal for any person to write a book, publish an article or speak in public about being gay, lesbian or transgender, Hurriyet Daily News reports.
Alexeyev was arrested for holding a banner outside the city hall in Saint Petersburg that read "Homosexuality is not perverted. What's perverted is hockey on grass and ballet on ice," which is a quote from a Soviet film star. He was charged with “propaganda to minors”.
The judge "opened a Pandora's box" by issuing such ruling, Alexeyev told AFP. "I think it will be viewed very negatively and it will show the absurdity of what's going on in 21st-century Saint Petersburg," he said, calling the law "absolutely arbitrary," Hurriyet Daily quoted.
The 34-year-old said he will appeal and also plan to contest the law at the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.
Several other activists have been charged under the law, but Alexeyev is the first to be sentenced.
The law sparked many controversies including overseas. The US State Department in February said it was deeply concerned the bill would restrict freedom of assembly for gays.