Russia’s state media regulator has accused a newspaper of breaking the country’s gay “propaganda” law because it published an article about a teacher who was fired for being gay.
The Russian media watchdog, Federal Mass Media Inspection Service (FMMIS), sent the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Molodoi Dalnevostochnik a notice claiming the article propagated “homosexual relations”.
The newspaper in the Khabarovsk region, close to the Chinese border in far east Russia, printed the interview with Alexander Yermoshkin in September where he talked about his dismissal, his attack by a neo-Nazi group and involvement in LGBT demonstrations.
State investigators took offence specifically at one quotation said by Mr Yermoshkin: “My very existence is effective proof that homosexuality is normal.”
According to a report on the Russian news website gazeta.ru, Galina Yegoshina, a specialist with the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service’s Far Eastern branch said: “This statement goes against logic. By offering it to underage readers, the author is misleading them about the normality of homosexuality.”
The newspaper’s editor, Alexander Suturin, has responded to the investigators with the argument that the article shows the negative sides of being gay in Russia and cited constitutional provisions outlawing discrimination.
He has offered Mr Yermoshkin an ecology column in the newspaper.
Individuals found guilty of violating the “gay propaganda” law can be fined up to 100,000 rubles ($3,039), while legal entities face a maximum penalty of 1 million rubles. The paper could be closed for 90 days.