Police detained two men in St. Petersburg yesterday for protesting against the new law banning “gay propaganda”. As a result, the men are likely to become the first to be convicted under said law.

The two unnamed men, who are reportedly aged 28 and 31, held up placards stating: “Being gay is normal” while stood outside the St. Petersburg City Palace of Youth Arts, a major extra-curricular activities centre for young people.

Their protest directly violates Article 7 of the city’s Administrative Code, which bans any actions promoting homosexuality or bisexuality among minors.

Both men were taken to a police station where their offence was registered. The district magistrate court is likely to issue them with a fine.

Local gay activists are claiming that the men were detained for an unusually excessive period and were charged with taking part in an illegal picket and disobeying police orders.

The bill banning LGBT “propoganda” was approved by the St. Petersburg city legislature and signed into law by the governor in late February. The document stipulates that promotion of homosexuality will be punished by a fine of 5,000 roubles (£108) for private individuals, 50,000 roubles (£1,000) for a public figure, and companies from 250-500,000 roubles (£5,340-£10,680).

The bill brought strong protests from Russian and international LGBT rights organisations and one Russian activist sued its author over damages to his reputation.

After the bill was signed into force, a group of legislators from Novosibirsk, Siberia, submitted a similar bill to the State Duma proposing to introduce the ban on gay propaganda nationally.