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Russia: Authorities poised to wield new legislation to ban films featuring LGBTI characters

Reacting to the news that the Russian media regulator is poised to censor online content containing references to LGBTI people or rights, including banning movies and TV series featuring LGBTI characters, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director, said:

“The Russian authorities are preparing to further scapegoat and stigmatize LGBTI people in the country through new homophobic legislation, including by perversely banning globally acclaimed movies like Brokeback Mountain and Call Me by Your Name.

“This unabashed censorship shows that the Russian authorities are wholly out-of-step with human rights, willing to blatantly violate the right to freedom of expression. Disguised as “protecting traditional values,” this outrageous move will not only further stigmatize millions of LGBTI people but expose them to increasing discrimination and stigma, hostility and violent acts.

Disguised as “protecting traditional values,” this outrageous move will not only further stigmatize millions of LGBTI people but expose them to increasing discrimination and stigma, hostility and violent acts.

Natalia Zviagina, Russia Director, Amnesty International

“This censorship directive, not to mention the anti-LGBTI law itself, must be immediately repealed. It’s time for Russia to stop promoting and endorsing discrimination against LGBTI people and understand and recognize that their rights are human rights, and protect them.”

Background

The Russian media regulator, Roskomnadzor, is currently considering a draft order that would regulate the implementation of a new homophobic law adopted in December 2022 with regard to publishing content online, including movie streaming services. It is expected that the order will be adopted in the coming days and enter into force on 1 September 2023.

According to the draft regulation, references in online materials aimed at, among other things, “encouraging the attractiveness of non-traditional sexual relations,” “creating a distorted idea of the social equivalence of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations” and “forming a positive attitude towards changing the biological sex of a person,” are to be deleted or risk the sites to be blocked by the authorities and fines of up to USD 81,000.

Roskomnadzor has recently suggested that online streaming services should delete movies and TV-series, including Brokeback Mountain, Call Me by Your Name, HBO’s TV-show The Sex Lives of College Girls and several episodes of the British TV drama This Is Going to Hurt. According to Vedomosti newspaper, this suggestion appears to have been implemented by streaming providers since the abovementioned movies and series are no longer accessible on Russian streaming platforms.