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Saturday November 24, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- A Russian court has dismissed a lawsuit that sought millions of dollars in damages from Madonna for allegedly traumatizing minors by speaking up for gay rights during a concert in August in St. Petersburg.

The ruling came after a one-day hearing during which plaintiffs claimed that Madonna’s so-called "propaganda of perversion" would negatively affect Russia’s birthrate and erode the nation’s defense capability by depriving the country of future soldiers.

In the end, the Moskovsky district court in St. Petersburg threw out the Trade Union of Russian Citizens’ lawsuit and the 333 million rubles ($10.7 million) it sought from the singer for allegedly exposing youths to "homosexual propaganda."

Anti-gay sentiment is strong in Russia, particularly in St. Petersburg, where local legislators passed a law in February that made it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors. Six months later, Madonna criticized the law on Facebook, then stood up for gay rights during a concert in St. Petersburg that drew fans as young as 12.

"We aren’t against homosexual people, but we are against the propaganda of perversion among minors," one of the plaintiffs, Darya Dedova, told the court. "We want to defend the values of a traditional family, which are currently in crisis in this country. Madonna violated our laws and she should be punished."