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Russian teen project charged with “gay propaganda"

Affirmative advice to LGBT youth results in prosecution

Bid to close down Children-404 online support network

London & St Petersburg - 10 February 2014

“The Children-404 project is being prosecuted for “gay propaganda” because it provides sympathetic, supportive advice to isolated, bullied, ostracised, depressed and sometimes suicidal LGBT teenagers. There are demands for the online project to be closed down. This is another example of the sweeping, harmful way Russia’s new anti-gay law is being interpreted and enforced,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the London-based human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

Contact details below for Children-404 and for its partner organisation, the Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality.

A petition has been organised against the hounding of the
Children-404 project.

A Valentine’s Day protest against Russia’s anti-gay law takes place this Friday, 14 February, 12 noon to 2pm, at the Russian Embassy in London.

News release on the victimization of Chidren-404 from the Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality in St. Petersburg, Russia:

The author and leader of the “Children-404” project, Lena Klimova, is accused of violating the "homosexual propaganda" ban. She is charged with creation of an online support community for Russian LGBT teenagers. The case is based on a complaint from Vitaly Milonov, member of the Saint Petersburg legislative assembly who sponsored the "propaganda" ban there. Milonov demands to fine Klimova and to close the project.

First, Ms. Klimova was summoned to a local police station in her home city of Nizhny Tagil on January 17 in order to give explanations in connection with Milonov’s complaint. Lena was summoned for the second time and an infringement notice was established.

According to the infringement notice, Ms. Klimova "had registered a web page propagandizing non-traditional sexual relations among minors, which took form of distribution of information among minors aimed at forming of non-traditional sexual affirmations, attraction to non-traditional sexual relations, distorted conceptions of social equality of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations."

Investigators see it as violation of the federal law "On protection of children from information harmful to their health and development". In their opinion, Ms. Klimova committed an administrative offense as described in p. 2 Art. 6.21 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation which forbids "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations."

The court hearings are to take place in 15-30 days.

Lena Klimova, a journalist from the city of Nizhny Tagil in the Urals, established the online community "Children-404" in March 2013. The project came to exist after she published an article about LGBT teenagers’ problems and began receiving constant messages from these teenagers. These letters where teenagers share their personal stories, sometimes very sad and bitter, tell about their problems, about bullying by peers and misunderstanding by parents, are posted on the project’s wall. At present, more than one thousand letters have been published.

"In light of general trends in the country, I am not surprised. But it is very sad that letters from LGBT teenagers themselves are called "homosexual propaganda among minors". It is absurd! Milonov, the complaint initiator, has two demands: to fine me and to close the group. If it will be closed, LGBT teenagers will lose the only place where they can openly speak about themselves and receive advice they need to live. It will be a catastrophe,” says Lena Klimova.

"Children-404" is a partner project of the Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality and we support it in every way. Because of the project leader persecution, we begin an open campaign to protect Russian LGBT teenagers and the "Children-404" project. We call upon communities and all people of good will to join us. We demand to stop the state-sponsored bullying of teenagers.

The Russian law declared LGBT teenagers and adults "socially unequal". Any support to LGBT teenagers is put outside the law. They can't be told the truth that they are normal. And now the state wants to shut their own mouths - to declare teenagers' letters criminal. And this is while Russia keeps the 1st place in Europe in teenage suicides. The state has initiated a targeted bullying of LGBT teenagers which threatens their lives, pushes them to suicide.

"At least every third LGBT teenager in Russia thought about suicide, and at least every fifth tried to commit suicide at least once," says Lena Klimova. "As reason for suicidal thoughts, teenagers name internal homophobia, physical and psychological abuse (including outing) from relatives and acquaintances. Most often suicidal thoughts arise if a teenager is lonely and has nobody to talk to and to trust. On the contrary, those with reliable friends or accepting parents almost never think about suicide", says Klimova.

The data is based on a survey of 293 teenagers that Lena Klimova conducted in July 2013.

ENDS

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