RAPSI hosted a live text broadcast of the Madonna gay propaganda trial in St. Petersburg’s Moscovsky District Court. A total of nine claimants representing socially conservative advocacy groups sought damages for Madonna’s alleged violation of a city ordinance banning gay propaganda. The activists filed suit last August after Madonna urged the audience to be nice to gays during her concert in the city.
The plaintiffs sought approximately $10.7 million in damages, claiming that Madonna’s show of support for the LGBT community constituted a violation of St. Petersburg’s gay propaganda ordinance, which purportedly aims to protect children.
The St. Petersburg law on prohibiting propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia among under-aged, which gathered a host of both supporters and opponents, came into effect on March 30.
Under the amended law public actions intended to promote homosexual and bisexual relations and transgender issues among under-aged are to be punished by administrative fines amounting to 5,000 rubles ($170) for individuals, 50,000 rubles ($1,700) for officials and from 250,000 to 500,000 rubles ($8,500 to 17,000) for legal entities.
20:00 That wraps up our live text broadcast of the hearing. Thank you for joining us and stay tuned!
19:56 The claimants have an opportunity to appeal the judgement.
19:50 The aggrieved parties love the media, so as expected they're surrounded by the members of the press that didn't fit into the courtroom.
19:49 Everyone's filing out of the courtroom.
19:45 The judge is back. The claims rejected in full.
19:36 We've been waiting for more than an hour already for the judge to return with the judgement. Everyone in the courtroom is pretty eager.
18:54 We're still waiting as the judge deliberates in his chambers. We remain cozy in our tiny courtroom. There was a bit of yelling a few minutes ago, especially about RAPSI. The parties and journalists are chatting amongst themselves as we wait.
18:47 Planeta Plyus holds that Madonna's speech contained no elements of gay propaganda while the entertainment complex representatives stress that the claimants failed to prove any sufferings as a result of the show in St. Petersburg.
18:36 The judgement to be announced soon.
18:29 The judge just left to his chambers to make a decision.
18:26 Closing statements. The aggrieved parties just finished repeating their major points made throughout the day. Dedova says that the law doesn't matter if a well-known person with big money comes to the city.
18:23 Bingo! Both the claimants and the defense representatives agree that the trial should be over today.
18:15 Finally, there's no more evidence. The defense side has an opportunity to object. Its representatives stress first of all that the evidence was gathered mostly in the Internet and there's no opportunity to verify its authenticity. They're especially concerned with the rough footage and Wikipedia entries.
18:09 The judge is losing his temper, asking the aggrieved parties if they can show him even one child present in the footage of the concert speech. After a profound amount of searching, they succeed in finding one, singular child. The aggrieved parties are extremely pleased with themselves.
18:02 Oh no... We're now watching rough footage of the fans at the Madonna show where pink bracelets were distributed. And another rough footage of Madonna singing and dancing on stage. Her speech again, this time from the fans' perspective. The last one appears to be cell phone footage.
17:54 Finally, the aggrieved parties present their last piece of evidence - the results of an expert examination. The judge, however, says that an expert should be brought to court himself to testify.
17:50 Meanwhile, another piece of evidence of Madonna's misbehaviour appears in the courtroom. It's the concert footage showing underaged possessing LGBT elements.
17:44 Just about everyone in our cute little courtroom is soaked with sweat. The judge warns the journalists asking them to stop sniggering.
17:41 Now they got back to the translation debate. They seem to be grappling with the Russian translation of Madonna's show announcement mentioning pink bracelets.
17:35 Another dispute breaks out between the parties. Dedova turns out to be an activist of the public organization standing for the city of Volgograd to be renamed to Stalingrad. Defense side counsel advises Dedova to go even further and to change the photos of Stalin with the photos of Hitler.
17:24 Madonna can be heard quoting Jesus saying he wanted us all to love our neighbor. She then asked everyone to go out and treat everyone with love.
17:16 Daria Dedova's getting fussy as defense side counsel suggests that the cartoon is not propaganda. We are now looking at Madonna's YouTube footage. The claimants' counsel is trying to translate into Russian what is said on the screen. "Gay people here and all around the world have the same right", is being said.
17:13 The judge is puzzled. Why doesn't it bother you when men hug while celebrating Navy Day, the judge asks.
17:07 The aggrieved parties are now showing a news article on the show and a photo depicting a topless white cartoon man making out with a topless black cartoon man. Daria Dedova is upset that putting man-on-man cartoon action next to that of woman-on-man makes gay seem normal.
17:02 A dispute breaks out between the parties over what exactly Madonna meant in her Facebook post. It's a pity Madonna herself is absent from the courtroom.
16:56 The aggrieved parties show a screenshot of the Facebook announcement of the show. They show pictures of "super diva Madonna" supporting the gay community. They then give the judge a Russian translation of Madonna's Facebook page where she slams the gay propaganda law.
16:51 A screenshot of Madonna's personal website with the St. Petersburg show is another piece of evidence. The judge is considering its significance. The aggrieved parties have pulled up Madonna.com on the big screen.
16:48 The defendant's side wonders if Wikipedia might be considered a reliable source of information. One of the defense attorneys questions the legitimacy of Wikipedia as a source. , based on its open source nature.
16:41 Wikipedia entry on LGBT community and its symbols is among the evidence. The claimants' representative notes that quite a lot of people attended the show with rainbow flags showing their support to LGBT community.
16:34 Daria Dedova just handed her concert ticket over for the judge's consideration. He's reading its contents.
16:30 We are back in action. The judge is going to consider the evidence. He starts with a screenshot of the show announcement published on one of the booking websites.
16:23 Seems like the judge is determined to finish this today and to deliver a judgment.So get cozy because we'll be with you for a while.
16:11 The judge has announced a ten-minute break.
16:05 The judge is asking for a statistical analysis of the number of divorces caused by homosexuality vs. those caused by alcoholism. Orlovsky replies that medical evidence shows there're at about 0.01% gays among men.
15:58 Vitaly Orlovsky, another aggrieved party representative, says that the defendants' actions affect the traditional families and lead to divorces. The judge has been getting increasingly sassy with the aggrieved parties. He is curious why the claim is lodged against Madonna alone.
15:53 Irina Gizatulina, another aggrieved party representative, is now testifying. She says that it's very important for the government to protect society from gay propaganda. Her underaged brother accidentally watched Madonna's show in some social networks.
15:48 The judge asks Dedova if she ever attended the gay pride parades. She got confused and then replied that she is not against the homosexuality as itself.
15:43 One of the aggrieved party representatives says that Madonna was more provocative. He seems to be totally confused and says it's time to change the Constitution. He feels uncomfortable about the fact that international agreemnets prevail over national law.
15:39 The judge asks the aggrieved parties if they are concerned with the Oliver Stone film about Alexander Makedonsky because of some scenes deemed defying.
15:34 Another aggrieved party representative complains about the poor conditions in Europe, especially in those countries where same-sex marriage is legalized. He blames 'such as Madonna' for that.
15:29 The judge wonders why the refusal to launch a criminal case (see 14:58) was not appealed. Dedova explains that the application was duly filed to the prosecutor's office, but no answer was so far.
15:24 It might be the lack of oxygen, but the tempers are short and tensions are high. Everyone in the courtroom looks extraordinarily grumpy. The judge seems particularly frustrated.
15:21 We set a precedent for the artists to take into account the fact that the law prevails in our city, Yakovleva says.
15:14 Another aggrieved party representative, an expecting mother, takes the floor. The law was brutally violated and in a few years it'd be a common practice, Mirianna Yakovleva says. She stresses that Madonna represents alien culture values.
15:06 Dedova is deeply concerned that the defendants feel absolutely calm about their impunity. She is confident the defendants should bear all the responsibility for the rights for social order abuse.
14:58 Darya Dedova, who represents the plaintiffs, takes the floor. She says the aggrieved party is upset by the refusal to launch a criminal case over the Madonna's show law infringements. It's incredible to equal the traditional sexual relations to lesbian relations and sodomy, Dedova says. She stresses that children in the West become a neuter gender.
14:54 One of the guys on the defense side of the table is laughing and shaking his head.
14:51 The aggrieved parties' representative is asking to show a video clip from the show. The judge is not opposed to the idea.
14:42 He reminds us that Madonna labelled the gay propaganda law as barbaric in her Facebook note in March while the show took place in August. She promised to mark the problem during her show in St. Petersburg. The representative draws attention to the fact that Russian LGBT activists equaled the show to the gay pride parade.
14:36 Agrrieved party representative stresses also that it was Planeta Plyus - the Russian company - which organized the show and therefore is guilty as well. There's no need to hide behind Madonna's promoters, he says.
14:29 Agrrieved party representative is back up. He's saying that the entertainment complex authorities do bear responsibility as they are responsible for everything what's going on its territory.
14:29 He believes that the amount sought in compensation is out of line.
14:25 He says that the entertainment complex authorities had no right to restrict entrance to the underaged as it would be against the consumer rights protection law. There was a sign on the tickets saying that the show is only for those aged 18 and up.
14:21 Representative of the entertainment complex in St. Petersburg where the show was organized takes the floor.
14:16 Planeta Plyus representative summarizes that the claims brought before the court are groundless and should be rejected.
14:06 The defendant's side reminds us that nobody of the spectators applied to the police for any law infringements right after the show. Besides, Planeta Plyus representative is saying that they've issued a warning that schoolchildren shouldn't attend the show.
14:02 The defendant's side takes the floor. One of the representatives says that Planeta Plyus being a defendant is a commercial organization which entered into an agreement with Madonna's promoters. It was obliged to organize the show and it was not interested in the programme details.
14:01 The journalists ask the aggrieved parties to name themselves, but they refuse, answering that's the trial, not the show.
13:57 The judge is asking about the amount the aggrieved party is seeking and against whom.
13:54 The speaker looks exhausted.
13:53 Meanwhile, the aggrieved party is lamenting that Madonna's violations threaten to unhinge Russian social order. From his words, a public, thoroughly planned performance affected the childbearing rates as Russia's youth after Madonna's words will be more interested in filth than family building. The country's going to loose its defense capacity as a result.
13:51 The judge is listening intently and taking notes as the aggrieved party urges him to consider Russia's youth. He's breathing really heavily now, which is fair. Our fun-sized courtroom is about to run out of oxygen.
13:46 He is now arguing against Madonna on human rights grounds.
13:41 "The mordern Russian system of law is based on ethic principles", the aggrieved party says, referring to the words of Valery Zorkin, the Constitutional Court chairman.
13:36 The aggrived party is talking about the rights of every child to be protected from gay propaganda and defining homosexuality as amoral and inclusive of sodomy. He is reading from the Bible, speaking with poise and passion, but his hands are trembling and he's wiping sweat from his forehead.
13:29 One aggrieved party is currently describing how Madonna's violation of the anti-gay propaganda law was later posted on her Facebook page and her personal website. He claims that Madonna knew about the law when she violated it, and that children were present in the concert venue when she did it. He is now reading from the anti-gay propaganda law.
3:26 The mood in the courtroom is somber. The aggrieved parties are looking pretty aggrieved. They ask the judge to enter the translation of Madonna's speech at her show into the case file.
13:22 Actually, there's no Madonna in the courtroom, but neither the claimants, nor those on the defendant's side have any objections. It's still unknown whether Madonna was served with the claim form.
13:16 Eight aggrieved parties are present. Two of the aggrieved parties just submitted to the judge a translated manuscript of Madonna's concert speech in support of homosexuals.
13:10 Camera crews were told to wrap up and clear out. Trial has begun. Judge Vitaly Barkovsky will be presiding.
13:09 A tv screen has been set up and Madonna concert footage is currently playing on mute. We presume it's being prepared as an exhibit.
13:06 Video and camera crews were given a few minutes to shoot prior to the start of proceedings.
13:02 And RAPSI's in! We're getting ready to begin. Meanwhile, one of the claimants is giving an interview telling the reporter about the difference of apprehension of sexual behaviour in Russia and abroad. She is saying about the true family values and the necessity to protect children's rights. From the claimant's words, Madonna defied those values.
12:59 There's space in the courtroom for 6 people. Maybe 7 if we get really cozy. This is going to be interesting, maybe less of a battle than an all-out-war. Some extra benches and chairs were brought into the courtroom which is the size of a walk-in closet.
12:54 Actually the lack in anti-gay activists - parties to this case included, has some wondering whether the case is going to be postponed yet again. Two claimants - 40-year-old men - showed up and proceeded right to the courtroom.
12:47 So far the court is surrounded by plenty of journalists, but surprisingly few anti-gay activists. Tension is growing in the corridor as journalists prepare to battle for very, very few available seats.
12:45 Good morning and welcome to RAPSI's live broadcast of the drama brewing in St. Petersburg between nine of the city's most avid anti-gay activists and American pop diva Madonna. With you this morning are Ingrid Burke and Vladimir Yaduta.