St. Petersburg City Court Sides With Madonna in Lawsuit

The St. Petersburg City Court upheld the rejection of an 333 million-ruble ($11 million) suit against Madonna for violating a local law banning homosexual “propaganda” as lawmakers debate similar federal legislation.

The court in St. Petersburg, the second-biggest Russian city and the hometown of President Vladimir Putin, affirmed a Nov. 22 district court decision, said Daria Dedova, one of the suit’s plaintiffs, in a phone interview today. The court reduced the court fees for each plaintiff from 60,000 rubles ($2,000) to 7,500 rubles, according to a court spokesman.

“We don’t agree with the court’s decision and plan to appeal to Russia’s Supreme Court,” said Dedova. “The State Duma is discussing legislation to prohibit anti-family propaganda on the national level and we are on the right path.”

Dedova is among nine city residents who filed the lawsuit against Louise Veronica Ciccone, Madonna’s real name, concert organizer PMI Corp. and the Peterburgsky Sports and Concert Complex, where the event took place.

They accused the defendants of violating cultural traditions and promulgating homosexuality during Madonna’s Aug. 9 concert. Gays and lesbians should be treated with dignity and tolerance, the pop singer said during the gig to about 10,000 concertgoers.

The law, signed on March 7 by St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko, bans lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “propaganda.” Similar bills are already in force in 12 of the country’s 83 regions.

Russian lawmakers gave preliminary approval to a bill that would ban such “propaganda” on Jan. 25 in the first of three readings.

People found guilty of creating “false perceptions of the social equality of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations” face fines of as much as 500,000 rubles, according to draft passed by a vote of majority of State Duma members.

Fines for violating the St. Petersburg law total 5,000 rubles ($156) for private individuals, 50,000 rubles for government officials and 500,000 rubles for organizations.

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