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Russian Teen Arrested for 'Gay Propaganda' for Photo of Men Hugging


Saving a photo on a social media site was enough to provoke the wrath of those who enforce Russia's antigay laws.

A 16-year-old Russian has been arrested under the country's so-called gay propaganda law for saving a photo of two men hugging on a social media website.

Maxim Neverov was detained in July for uploading images to Russian social media site Vkontakte, becoming the first minor charged under the 2013 antigay law, which bans the "promotion" of homosexuality, NBC News reports. He was officially charged August 7.

"The photos showed guys hugging. I didn't publish them, just saved them in an album," Neverov wrote in an email to NBC News. "One of the photos said, 'Love is better than fucking.' I saved them and forgot about them -- just as tens of thousands of teenagers do all across Russia. I never thought they would charge me according to this."

The teen has been released from custody, but he was fined 50,000 rubles, or $736, for the photo.

Neverov has had a history of standing up for the Russian LGBTQ community, which likely put him on the radar of authorities. He's involved with Protest Biysk, a civil rights organizing project, and created a performance piece called Gays or Putin.

"It's terrible. In our country, people are tortured and killed in prisons, schoolchildren are intimidated only because they oppose Putin's regime," he said. "Protest Biysk is sure that if the administration is so afraid of us, then we need to continue. We have everything that is needed: people, ideas, desire."

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