Russia update: 4 Dutch citizens arrested for 'gay propaganda'

Update from the Russian LGBT Network on July 22:

Kris van der Veen
Kris van der Veen

Murmansk, Russia — Four Dutch citizens were detained on charges of spreading “gay propaganda” on July 20 and 21 at the Youth for Human Rights Camp.

The camp’s program included a performance by Kris van der Veen from Dutch LGBT-Groningen and a viewing of a documentary about the human rights situation in Russia.

On July 21, police officers and representatives of the Russian Federal Migration Service arrived at the campsite, questioned the participants and said that Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda” (specifically Article 6.21.3, “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among the under-aged, spread by citizen of a foreign country”) was violated because the video contained interviews with under-aged people.

The Dutch said they were forced to sign false statements about their actions because, as police officers said, “that’s how Russia works.”

The Russian LGBT Network and the Murmansk-based LGBT organization Maksimum are providing legal assistance to the defendants.

The General Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and international human rights organizations are being kept informed.

A court hearing had been scheduled for today, but it was postponed.

Update from DutchNews.nl:

The four were arrested at a festival in Murmansk, close to the border with Finland. …

One of those arrested is Kris van der Veen, who is a councillor for the left-wing green party GroenLinks in Groningen. He is also chairman of the foundation KGBT Groningen, which campaigns for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.

[Nos television] says the four were making a documentary about gay rights in Russia and had been questioning youngsters about their views.

The four have been released pending their court appearance. … Van der Veen used Twitter to say they are being helped by the Dutch consulate.

Update from Gay Star News:

While the … Dutch tourists were being held in the police station, authorities said they had violated the ‘rules of stay in the territory of Russia’.

They were told they had broken the law of ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ propaganda among children, which was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin last month.

It is believed they were free to go after being charged with the offence, and at the time of writing, was told to appear in court in less than six hours. …

If convicted of [violating the law, they] could be heavily fined, held for up to 14 days in Russian prison and then deported back to the Netherlands.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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    Russia arrests 3 Dutch visitors, cites 'gay propaganda' ban

    In support of Javed Jaghai and Maurice Tomlinson