By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com February 21 2014 2:53 PM ET
A Russian journalist accused of violating the country's ban on so-called gay propaganda because she facilitated a social networking group for LGBT teens has been acquitted of all charges against her, reports PinkNews.
Lena Kilmova serves as an administrator for the group Children-404 on Russian social networking site Vkontakte and on Facebook, where LGBT teens share first-person stories from what the page calls "the invisible victims of homophobia." Her role on the social networking site drew the attention of antigay St. Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, who filed a complaint contending that without groups like Children-404, "no kids like that would exist."
But a Dzherskinskii district court ruling today agreed with Kilmova's attorney that Kilmova had not registered or launched the group, but rather was simply administrating it.
In a strikingly sympathetic ruling, the judge declared that Children-404 had nothing to do with "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships," which have been illegal in Russia since the nationwide ban took effect last June.
"This group is of great help for minors facing problems because of their sexual orientation and gender identity," the judge said, according to PinkNews.
Kilmova's lawyer, an attorney who works with the Russian LGBT Network, said today's ruling proved the "incapacity and groundlessness of the so-called law about 'propaganda of homosexuality.'"
"This law contradicts to some Russia’s international obligations and, as it was proved by the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee, consolidates discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and violates the freedom of speech," said Maria Kozlovskaya, according to PinkNews.
The group gets its name from the internet protocol code when a webpage cannot be found, and has published more than 1,000 letters from LGBT teenagers since its March 2013 founding, according to the St. Petersburg-based Straight Alliance of LGBT Equality, which partners with Children-404.
PinkNews notes that Kilmova was the fifth person charged with violating the ban on so-called gay propaganda. Three others have been found guilty, in addition to a Russian newspaper which reported a story about a geography teacher who said he lost his job for being gay.