A Russian man accused of stabbing a gay man, and later confessed to the crime, has been acquitted of murder.
According to Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, a jury in Moscow ruled that Anton Berezhnoi was not guilty of the June 29, 2019 murder of Roman Yedalov.
Artyom Lapov, a lawyer working for gay rights group Stimul, and investigators believe Berezhnoi noticed Yedalov and his partner, Yevgeny Yefimov, at a Moscow train station and started to harass them. First, Berezhnoi yelled insults at the couple before physically assaulting the two. He even pulled out a knife at some point during the altercation. While Yefimov suffered minor injuries, Roman Yedalov died from the attack.
During the trial process, Berezhnoi admitted to attacking the couple. Though, Berezhnoi said he did not intend to kill. According to him, Yedalov fell on the knife. Unfortunately, the jury sided with that defense.
While gay sex and homosexuality are legal in Russia, there is a negative atmosphere around both and little protections are placed to prevent anti-LGBT attacks. Plus, the government continues to add pressure on the situation with the anti-gay propaganda law. This law gives Russian authorities the right to block pride parades and online LGBTQ content under the excuse of protecting the innocence of youth. Ironically, the law has also been used against youths themselves. Two sons were removed from their years-long adoptive gay fathers because of the propaganda law. One gay teen was fined after he promoted LGBTQ rights on social media. Then, the law was used to shame a University student for having a pink cell phone case and liking a pro-gay rights Facebook group.
Thankfully, Berezhnoi didn’t totally get away with the death of Roman Yedalov. While he was found not guilty of the beating of Yedalov, he was convicted of a lesser assault charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced for the lesser charge in the next few days.