Madonna not driving Russian minors to homosexuality, court rules
ST PETERSBURG: A Russian court has dismissed a lawsuit that sought millions of dollars in damages from Madonna for allegedly traumatising minors by speaking up for gay rights during a concert in St Petersburg.

The ruling came after a one-day hearing that bordered on the farcical.

During it, plaintiffs claimed Madonna's so-called "propaganda of perversion" would negatively affect Russia's birth rate and erode the nation's defence capability by depriving the country of future soldiers.

At one point, the judge threatened to expel journalists from the courtroom if they laughed too much.

The Moskovsky district court in St Petersburg threw out the Trade Union of Russian Citizens' lawsuit and the 333 million roubles ($10.4 million) it sought from the singer for allegedly exposing youths to "homosexual propaganda".

Madonna did not attend the trial, and her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said on Thursday the star would not comment on it.

Anti-gay sentiment is strong in Russia, particularly in St Petersburg, where local politicians passed a law in February that made it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors.

Six months later, Madonna criticised the law on Facebook, then stood up for gay rights during a concert in St Petersburg that drew fans as young as 12.

"Who will children grow up to be if they hear about the equal rights of the lesbian lobby and manly love with traditional sexual relations?" one of the plaintiffs, Darya Dedova, testified on Thursday. "The death rate prevails over the birth rate in the West; young guys are becoming gender neutral."

Posted by: tipper 2012-11-22