The article highlighted the dismissal of Khabarovsk LGBT activist Alexander Yermoshkin, a gay school Geography teacher, with the verdict raising questions over the media’s ability to report news events.Yermoshkin was reportedly fired over his sexual orientation.
The article headlined ‘Gayography Story’ in newspaper Molodoi Dalnevostochnik reported the man’s dismissal but was held to flout a controversial 2013 law forbidding distribution to minors of material supporting ‘non-traditional’ sexual relationships.
Editor Alexander Suturin was fined 50,000 roubles – around $1,420. At issue was a quote from the fired teacher stating: ‘My existence itself is effectively evidence of homosexuality’s ********’.
Galina Egoshina, an official with Roskomnadzor, the agency that supervises media conformance with law, stated at an earlier hearing, according to gazeta.ru: ‘Such a claim violates the laws of logic’.
She went on to seemingly compare homosexuals to maniacs and serial killers.
‘By presenting it to readers who are minors, the author leads them into error about the ******** of homosexuality. Following the logic of the author, you could recognise the existence of maniacs, serial killers, etc, as normal and even effective’.
Natalya Pakulova, aide to the chairman of the Khabarovsk Central District Court, told Interfax news agency on Friday: ‘The court found the material to contain indications of propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.’
The editor was found guilty of a crime enshrined by Part 2 of Article 6.21 of the Russian Code of Administrative Violations, Pakulova said. He denied anything in the article promoted gay sexual relations.
‘The purpose of the publication was to draw people’s attention to a violation of the law and discrimination. I said that in court,’ the editor said.
The judge turned down his request for a forensic evaluation of the text involving psychologists and linguists. ‘A request for such an evaluation was made twice, but was declined by court,’ he said.
The editor will now contest the verdict at Khabarovsk Central District Court. The law banning homosexual propaganda has led to an outcry in the West, but appears to have broad support in Russia, especially from parents.