Metro Weekly

Streaming Service Slaps Adult Rating on “My Little Pony”

A Russian streaming service has given a popular children's show an adult rating as part of an ongoing crackdown against LGBTQ visibiity.

A screenshot of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” – Photo: YouTube

The Russian streaming service Kinopoisk has given an 18+ adult rating to the cartoon series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

It appears to be an attempt to comply with the country’s law prohibiting the spread of pro-LGBTQ “propaganda,” reports Meduza, a Latvian-based Russian- and English-language online news outlet.

Kinopoisk did not officially explain why it changed the rating of the children’s show. However, speculation has largely centered around a tomboyish character named Rainbow Dash, who has been interpreted as queer despite having no stated sexual orientation.

Those familiar with the My Little Pony series note that the rating may also have been inspired by the introduction of two characters — Aunt Holiday and Auntie Lofty — who appear to be a same-sex couple in the show’s ninth and final season. 

The cartoon series, intended for viewers ages four to seven, follows a group of ponies, pegasi, and unicorns in the kingdom of Equestria on various adventures, including searches for magical artifacts.

The change in the rating is one of several developments that have taken place in the days and weeks following the Russian Supreme Court’s recent ruling designating the “global LGBTQ+ movement” as an extremist organization.

Just hours after the court’s ruling, police raided multiple LGBTQ venues in Moscow, including a nightclub, a male sauna, and a bar hosting LGBTQ parties, carding patrons and taking down personal information under the guise of investigating possible drug use. 

Meduza reports that the dating app Pure has removed the option for Russian users to indicate their sexual orientation when registering.

According to the Telegram channel Ostorozhno Novosti, users from Russia can now only specify their height, weight, and language, while users from all other countries can choose from a list of sexual orientations.

Several other LGBTQ venues and advocacy organizations have permanently closed their doors out of fear of reprisal from the Russian government, which is now empowered to enforce the law and mete out jail sentences — some of which could be as harsh as 12 years in prison — to anyone participating in or providing financial assistance to any LGBTQ organization. 

Perhaps even more troublingly, 2GIS, a Russian digital mapping company, has instructed its staff to begin reviewing businesses on the company’s maps and creating a special standalone register of LGBTQ establishments, as reported by Novaya Gazeta.

Staff at 2GIS have reportedly been instructed to check individual entries and file complaints in cases of “compromising” photos or reviews. 

“My opinion is that they [data on establishments] will go further,” an anonymous company employee told iStories, an investigative journalism website, as reported on the platform’s Telegram channel.

With LGBTQ entities all listed on a special registry, it doesn’t take much imagination to foresee how the Russian government might use the list if it obtains a copy.

These developments continue more than a decade of actions by government officials targeting the LGBTQ community for persecution or discrimination, often at the urging of, or with the approval of, President Vladimir Putin, a right-wing authoritarian who has touted his opposition to LGBTQ rights to cement support among social conservatives.

In 2013, Putin’s government adopted a law prohibiting the spread of “propaganda” related to “nontraditional sexual relations” among minors. In 2022, the law was expanded to make it illegal to promote or acknowledge LGBTQ identity, even among adults.

The law specifically targeted depictions of homosexuality or gender identity on television, online, and in various forms of media, culminating in threats to fine or permanently block streaming platforms like Netflix that offer LGBTQ programming.

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