Skip to main content

Report: Gay rights activists arrested in Russia

By the CNN Wire Staff
April 7, 2012 -- Updated 1118 GMT (1918 HKT)
Police officers detain a gay rights activist who tried to protest against local anti-gay legislation in St. Petersburg on April 5, 2012.
Police officers detain a gay rights activist who tried to protest against local anti-gay legislation in St. Petersburg on April 5, 2012.
  • A controversial law came into effect last month in the city of St. Petersburg
  • It bans the "promotion of homosexuality" to minors
  • Activists say the legislation makes any mention of homosexuality illegal
  • The United States and European Union have voiced concern over the legislation

Moscow (CNN) -- Police in the Russian city of St. Petersburg have arrested two gay rights activists for breaching a new law that bans the "promotion of homosexuality" to minors, state news agency RIA Novosti reported Saturday.

The two men were detained on Thursday after picketing against the law, which came into effect on March, the news agency said.

St. Petersburg is one of four regions in Russia to impose fines for the dissemination of "gay propaganda" to minors, according to the state-owned Itar-Tass news agency. The others are the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions.

Gay rights activists in St. Petersburg have challenged the law in court, arguing that any mention of homosexuality can now be considered an offense under the bill, RIA Novosti said.

The U.S. State Department raised concerns over the legislation before it was passed by St. Petersburg city authorities.

Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the law "would severely restrict freedoms of expression and assembly for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, and indeed all Russians. As Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton has said, gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

"We have called on Russian officials to safeguard these freedoms, and to foster an environment which promotes respect for the rights of all citizens."

The United States is liaising with the European Union, as well as Russian officials, on the issue, Nuland said in February.

The European Parliament has also voiced concern over regional legislation in Russia that restricts gay rights.

CNN's Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.