Madonna `gay propaganda` lawsuit thrown out by Russian court

St. Petersburg: US pop star Madonna did not break city laws on the promotion of a homosexual lifestyle among minors during a concert in St. Petersburg earlier this year, a Russian court has ruled.

"Madonna`s actions were planned and aimed at the formation of a distorted view of personal relations," read the lawsuit, which was dismissed after a six-hour-long hearing by the St. Petersburg court Thursday.

The nine plaintiffs were claiming over $10 million in compensation for "moral damages" suffered during Madonna`s concert in August, during which the star handed out pink bracelets to the crowd in a show of unity with the city`s gay and lesbian community.

The organisers of the concert had stated that entry to the concert would be barred to anyone under 18 years of age.

The authorities had earlier refused to open a criminal investigation into the allegations.

"St. Petersburg`s laws were brutally violated and in the coming years this type of violation could become the norm," plaintiff Marina Yakovlyeva told the court.

"But we have created a precedent - any artist coming to our city will know now what laws exist in our city."

The plaintiffs also said Madonna`s "gay propaganda" would lead to a deterioration of Russia`s demographic crisis and its subsequent inability to man its army.

They also said her promotion of homosexuality would lead to an increase in divorce rates. But the judge at the trial was unimpressed.

"How many families split up because one of the couple is gay?" asked Judge Vitaly Barkovsky. "And how many because of alcoholism? How many lawsuits have you filed against alcohol companies?"

The plaintiffs were backed by St. Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, who authored the city`s "gay propaganda" law.

The law, which was passed in March, criminalizes "public action aimed at propagandizing sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors".

Those charged with breaking the law face fines from 5,000 to 500,000 rubles.

Despite a court summons, Madonna did not attend the hearing, which attracted intense media attention in Russia. A spokesperson for Madonna was not available for comment.