Russia's "gay propaganda" law was ruled discriminatory by the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday, rejecting the country's claim that it was needed to protect morality.
The law, which was adopted in 2013, banned the promotion of homosexuality to people under 18 years old, BBC News noted. Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, but BBC News reported that prejudice against homosexuals remains rampant there.
Russia's justice ministry argued that the law was targeted "exclusively at protecting the morals and health of children," the BBC News said.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, though, found that three gay Russian activists – Nikolay Bayev, Aleksey Kiselev, and Nikolay Alekseyev – were discriminated against when they were fined for protesting against the law, CNN reported.
Bayev, Kiseley, and Alekseyev held protests from 2009 to 2012 with banners stating that homosexuality is natural and normal, and not a perversion, according to the court ruling.
"The court found in particular that, although the laws in question aimed primarily at protecting minors, the limits of those laws had not been clearly defined and their application had been arbitrary," a statement from the European Court of Human Rights said.
"Moreover, the very purpose of the laws and the way they were formulated and applied in the applicants' case had been discriminatory and, overall, served no legitimate public interest.
Indeed, by adopting such laws the authorities had reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia, which was incompatible with the values of a democratic society," the statement continued.
Russia's state-run news agency TASS reported that its Justice Ministry has vowed to appeal the ruling within three months. Russia has denied that the law was discriminatory or that it restricted freedom of speech, noted CNN.
CNN reported that the law was one of several passed by the Russian Duma, or lower legislative house of the Russian Parliament, in what it called an effort to uphold traditional family values.
Russian legislator Vitaly Milonov, who introduced the original bill into the St. Petersburg parliament, told the BBC News that the decision was "anti-national."
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