Target: Sergei Alekseevich Ohlopkov, Prosecutor of Sverdlovsk Region
Goal: Overturn the guilty verdict in the trial of a Russian activist, and prevent the shutdown of her website, which provides resources for LGBTI teens.
Elena Klimova, a Russian activist, has focused her work on providing resources for LGBTI teens. It would be a valuable effort in any part of the world, but in Russia’s anti-gay climate, it’s also dangerous. Sign the petition and demand that Klimova’s recent conviction for her work be overturned and that her website remain available.
Klimova is no stranger to government interference in her work. She was previously arrested and charged with spreading “gay propaganda,” although that instance did not result in a conviction. This time, however, she was targeted by Moscow Department of Roskomnadzor, which monitors media in Russia. The organization claimed that it received 130 complaints about Klimova’s website, Children 404, and stated that the site “create[s] an impression among children that to be gay is to be a courageous, strong, confident and self-respecting person,” Amnesty International reports. Consequently, the government charged Klimova with promoting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.”
Klimova’s trial did not meet international fair trial standards–she was denied a postponement of her hearing when her lawyer was sick and unable to attend, and her request to introduce expert testimony was denied by the magistrate, who stated that she had already heard expert opinions both for and against Klimova’s case and that hearing more would not change her mind. Klimova was convicted of the charge and fined 50,000 rubles (around $740 US). She plans to appeal the ruling.
Most pressingly, Children 404 faces being shut down by the government. In such a hostile social and political climate, resources for LGBTI teens are hard to come by and extremely important. Sign the petition and demand that Klimova’s sentence be overturned and her website be left alone.
I am writing to demand that the sentence of Elena Klimova, an activist who was recently fined 50,000 rubles for promoting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors,” be overturned and that her website, Children 404, be allowed to remain functioning and available.
Russia’s current anti-gay policies have created a hostile atmosphere for LGBTI youths, and Klimova’s website aims to provide them with resources and support. In the words of the charges filed against Klimova, Children 404 “create[s] an impression among children that to be gay is to be a courageous, strong, confident, and self-respecting person.” This is exactly right, but–and this is the key point–it does not constitute a crime. Why is Russia intent upon using government time, money, and resources to persecute (and prosecute) people whose work aims to create and support happy, well-adjusted, well-rounded young people? Gay or straight–does that affect one’s ability for compassion, intelligent thought, or problem solving?
In limiting the resources available to its young people, Russia is limiting itself by stunting the growth of future leaders, policy makers, artists, caretakers, and involved citizens. It is therefore imperative that Elena Klimova be allowed to continue her work without government interference (including criminal charges and fines) and that her website be allowed to remain functional.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ludovic Bertron via Wikimedia Commons