Gay rights campaigner Nikolai Alekseev has become the first man to be convicted under St Petersburg’s recent ‘gay propaganda’ laws.

Mr Alekseev was said to have been fined 5,000 roubles, just over £100, by a court in Russia’s second city for the promotion of homosexuality among minors, AP reports.

The law was approved in February; this is the first time a citizen has been successfully prosecuted under it.

Mr Alekseev had held up a sign reading “Homosexuality is not a perversion” outside the Smolny Institute in April in public view.

A former journalist, Mr Alekseev turned his attention to full-time gay rights campaigning in 2005, setting up the gay rights advocacy group GayRussia.ru.

He has appeared regularly on Russian television and has been honoured for his work by LGBT organisations worldwide.

He has been arrested on numerous occasions for holding illegal Pride marches and gay rights demonstrations and launched lawsuits against Moscow authorities for banning the events and had announced his intention to retire last year.

Last month, the state-run polling company VTsIOM found that 96 percent of rural Russians had never seen ‘gay propaganda’. 85 percent of Moscow and St Petersburg residents said they had not seen gay propaganda. 86 percent of people reportedly approved a ban on the promotion of homosexuality.