Russian official’s homophobia has struck again.
YouTubers and families in Russia have recently become the target of government censorship after they recorded kids talking to a gay man. The Real Talk series and channel was a project created to spotlight the diversity of the human experience. In each video, children aged between 6 and 13 ask people of varying professions, lifestyles, and social outlooks about their specific field or topic of interest. One specific 12-minute video, released this past February, saw children talking to a gay man, and the Russian government didn’t like it.
As a source behind the project told RaadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty (or RFE/RL), State Duma deputy speaker Pyotr Tolstoi, Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov, and Public Chamber member Elina Zhgutova caught wind of the video this past Summer. They then started pressuring enforcement agencies to act on the video. While the authorities initially held no interest in the video, the Investigative Committee later agreed to the lawmakers. On November 2, the committee announced the opening of a criminal probe on suspicion of “violent sexual assault on a minor under the age of 14.” That said, the committee did not state who specifically they’re targeting with this investigation.
“The point was that children know that various people [including gays] exist, but they think of them like some sort of aliens because they are presented negatively in public forums,” said the source who asked to stay anonymous. “Here, they have the chance, in front of their parents, to see such people and ask them questions. That doesn’t mean that they need to be like those people.”
In fact, the parents and families state that instead of being disturbed by the video, they were disturbed by police investigation into the situation.
“They have come to us repeatedly,” the mother of one child, who asked to keep her identity a secret, told RFE/RL. “They called our neighbors…. It was very unpleasant.”
The mother also added that social workers paid a visit. The implied threat is that her parental rights might be revoked. This would be yet another case of the “child-focused” propaganda law was used in to effectively harm children.
Again, the case has been reclassified as a criminal investigation after the committee claims that “violent acts of a sexual nature” were placed upon the children. According to the Investigative Committee, the YouTube channel “organized and conducted an interview between the victims and people of a non-traditional sexual orientation, in the course of which there were conversations on various topics of a depraved character intended to sexually arouse the victims, as well as to stimulate their interest in sexual relations.”
Now everyone lightly involved with the video is concerned for their families and their safety.
“Everyone is afraid of being involved,” RFE/RL’s Real Time source said. “My friends, bloggers, journalists, those who are connected with the deputies…. Many of them have run away and simply stopped communicating with me.”