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Russia arrests first people under ‘gay propaganda’ law

According to the Moscow Times, the four men were arrested just outside the Russian city of Murmansk during a gay rights seminar. The men were reportedly in Russia filming a documentary about gay rights in the country.

One of the men arrested was Kris van der Veen, a Dutch city councilman and a gay rights activist. He recently said via Twitter: “after weird day, riding in car away from court. I believe indeed that there won’t be a case.”

There were several delays in the start of the court case against the four men, and the hearing Monday was cancelled to allow the judge ruling in the case more time to review materials.

“”It looks like it won’t go to court,” said Tatyana Kulbakina, a representative of the human rights organization OGON who was present at the hearing.

Salon notes that if the men are convicted, they could face two weeks in jail, heavy fines and deportation. The maximum fine is 100,000 rubles ($3,000).

The men were fined 3,000 rubles ($93) for violating the terms of their visas.

The controversial ban on “promotion of non-traditional relationships” was signed into law earlier in July by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The law has been widely criticized by Western countries.

In a Monday editorial by Harvey Fierstein of the New York Times, he notes that the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are an opportune time for countries to pressure Russia into reversing the law under threat of boycotts.

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