Metro Weekly

Russian Student Sent to Prison for Displaying LGBTQ Symbols

Danila Morozov was sentenced to prison for allegedly sharing LGBTQ symbols and criticizing Russia's invasion of Ukraine on social media.

Russian student Danila Morozov – Photo: National Research University Higher School of Economics

Danila Morozov, a student at Russia’s National Research University Higher School of Economics was accused of displaying symbols of the “global LGBT movement,” which was declared “extremist” by the the country’s Supreme Court last year.

He was sentenced to 15 days in jail.

The 22-year-old was also fined 50,000 rubles — about $548 — for “discrediting the Russian army” in posts criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on his Telegram channel, which has since been deleted.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, Russian authorities have cracked down on displays or media depictions of LGBTQ identity, conflating support for LGBTQ rights as contrary to existing social mores and traditional or religious viewpoints.

They have also cast pro-LGBTQ movements as potential breeding grounds for liberal Western values, including representation for sexual and gender minorities, as well as opposition to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

Examples of these crackdowns have included raids on bars and nightclubs frequented by members of the LGBTQ community, the disruption of a “My Little Pony” convention for allegedly promoting homosexuality, and fines or prosecutions of individuals or Western media companies accused of displaying LGBTQ symbols or advocating on behalf of LGBTQ rights.

In February, a woman was arrested and charged with spreading “LGBT propaganda” for wearing rainbow-colored earrings, while another was prosecuted for displaying a rainbow Pride flag on her Instagram account.

That same month, a third woman was fined for displaying a Pride flag in the window of her house.

In March, a man was arrested and charged for using “extremist symbols” when he sent a rainbow flag emoji in a private chat.

According to France 24, Russian authorities have begun removing books with LGBTQ content from brick-and-mortar stores and from online libraries or catalogs.

A new council set up by the Russian Book Union, a nominally “independent” body representing publishing professionals, has targeted the books.

That council determined that books with LGBTQ themes or characters runs afoul of Russia’s law prohibiting “LGBT propaganda,” information “advocating non-traditional sexual relationships,” or information about gender transitions or trans-specific medical treatments such as hormones or surgery.

The law, which first applied to minors when it was passed in 2013, and was later expanded to apply to all Russian citizens in 2022, has been interpreted by authorities to prohibit even information that presents homosexuality or LGBTQ topics in a neutral light, according to human rights advocates. 

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