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Russian Police Say Nothing Wrong With Shop Sign Seen As Insult To Gay Men

A sign saying "No entry for f*****s" can be seen in one of German Sterligov's food stores in central Moscow in May.
A sign saying "No entry for f*****s" can be seen in one of German Sterligov's food stores in central Moscow in May.

Police in the Russian city of Perm have refused to launch an investigation into a local food shop over a sign emphasizing in vulgar language that homosexuals are "not allowed" inside.

Maya Gorbunova, one of two women who filed a complaint with police in the Urals city in June about the shop -- part of a chain established in Russia by a prominent businessman -- posted a police statement about the issue on Facebook on September 23.

In the letter to a local prosecutor, which Gorbunova received on September 22, a police official says there are no grounds for a probe because, it asserts, the words pederast and pederasty are "scientific" terms for "male homosexuality" and not expletives.

The sign on the food shop, however, contains not the word pederast but a variant that is spelled differently and is widely considered in Russia to be an insulting expletive referring to a gay man.

The letter, dated August 29, gives no further explanation. It also says nothing about whether it is legal to bar gay men from an establishment in Russia, where homosexual relations were decriminalized in the 1990s.

"I think it is immoral and offensive to limit the entrance to a store, which is a public place, to anyone.... I will not allow anyone to rudely insult others in my city," Gorbunova wrote on Facebook.

Local media reports on September 25 said that the human rights ombudswoman in the Perm region, Tatyana Margolina, had urged prosecutors to look into the issue despite the police decision.

The shop in Perm is part of a chain called Khleb Sol (Bread and Salt) that is owned by German Sterligov, a prominent businessman in the early 1990s who is now an avowed monarchist and champion of what he says are traditional Russian values.

In 2013, President Vladimir Putin signed a law that bans disseminating "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors, which Kremlin critics say amounts to a ban on gay-rights rallies and could encourage discrimination and violence against gays.

With reporting by and
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