Russian LGBT activists fined under anti-gay law

Russian LGBT rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev (left), pictured here protesting in Moscow last September, was fined this week for violating Russia's "gay propaganda" law. (Tatyana Makeyeva, Reuters / September 25, 2013)

So while the Internet was going gaga over Tom Daley this week (more on that in a second), Russia reportedly made its first convictions under its controversial federal anti-gay law.

According to The Moscow Times, two LGBT activists were each fined about $120 Tuesday for holding a banner reading "Gay propaganda does not exist. People do not become gay, people are born gay" while demonstrating near a children's library in a coastal Russian city.

Both men — one of whom is Moscow Pride founder Nikolai Alexeyev were found in violation of Russian legislation approved in June that explicitly prohibits promoting "non-traditional sexual relations among minors." In the months since it was enacted, the law has received widespread criticism for being discriminatory and has sparked calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics being hosted in Russia this February.

Alexeyev has a track record of holding protests and pickets after being denied permits by Russian authorities, and the Moscow Times reports that he did the same here. And according to BuzzFeed, he has pledged to appeal his conviction in hopes of eventually bringing his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Given that Alexeyev is also the activist who tweeted in August that "Russia needs to re-criminalize homosexuality to make lazy Russian gays fight for their rights," he's probably up for the battle.

Now, feel free to take a break to Google pictures of Tom Daley before diving on to this week's other news:

  • The NFL is partnering on an LGBT youth outreach program with nonprofit You Can Play. The initiative, dubbed "High Five," is a more active effort to provide support and build connections with the LGBT community than any previous gay-friendly initiatives conducted by sports league. That ex-NFLers (and potentially current ones) are willing to reassure LGBT youth that they have a place in this world is encouraging enough, but I'd imagine "High Five" will likely also demonstrate to athletes the need to combat anti-gay attitudes. In my book, that's a win.

  • Europe's first openly gay prime minister now has company. Luxembourg swore in Xavier Bettel this week, giving Belgium's prime minister someone to talk to about the difficulty of keeping your man happy while also breaking through the LGBT glass ceiling and managing European Union diplomacy.

  • Smiths singer Morrissey's two-year relationship with a male photographer has been more or less scrubbed from the U.S. version of his autobiography, according to music magazine SPIN. Still unclear: Whether Morrissey's purported same-sex romp was downplayed to satisfy U.S. audiences or if it was just boring copy.

  • Closer to home, a Virginia Congressman is trying to persuade House Republicans to deny support to openly gay candidates. Politico reports that Rep. Randy Forbes "has waged a lengthy crusade" to urge the House's Republican campaign arm not to give money to Richard Tisei in Massachusetts or Carl DeMaio in San Diego.

  • In the first year of Washington's same-sex marriage law, same-sex couples accounted for one out of six marriages in the state. Another statistic that may be more telling: 24 percent of those weddings were between couples from out of state.

  • In what would amount to a high-profile catfight if the actual stakes weren't so high, openly gay figure skater Johnny Weir is getting flak for calling a group of protestors "idiots" for demonstrating against his stance on a boycott to the Sochi Olympics. The "idiots" in question are a handful of activists who stood outside Weir's talk at Barnard College in New York, essentially to call him out for collaborating with an NBC Olympics broadcasting team that appears to have no interest in covering discrimination being staged against LGBT Russians. Weir later apologized for the remark, although there's a ring of "sorry, not sorry" about the whole thing.

  • Days before the Internet started freaking out about Tom Daley (this is not an indictment, since we're as complicit as anyone else), actress Maria Bello wrote a beautiful New York Times essay about her romantic relationship with a female friend. Whether because it ran the weekend after Thanksgiving or because Bello's not a virile, 19-year-old hunk who easily captures the attention of the gay men running the LGBT blogosphere, the essay didn't quite get the attention it deserved — but it's a great reflection on family and same-sex romance.

  • Tumblr has released its top LGBTQ-related posts of 2013, and a GIF set of Neil Patrick Harris' interview of The Out List earns top honors. Two things: First, Lady Bunny's impassioned defense of drag queens was better than anything Neil Patrick Harris has ever said. Second, I pronounce "GIF" with a hard g, as in "gay." Come after me if you want, haters.