“Have you told heterosexuals to become homosexuals?” “Do you think LGBT people are better than straight people?”
These are questions Kris van der Veen, a Dutch activist and filmmaker, was asked by Russian police after he and three other people were arrested in Murmansk, Russia while interviewing people for a documentary about LGBT issues. The police who interrogated van der Veen for almost ten hours wanted to know “if he was a gay spy of some sort, sent from the Netherlands to corrupt Russian youth.”
The questions reveal how disturbing and vaguely worded the law is. Take a look at the most important part of the law, the part that’s supposed to define gay propaganda:
Promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors, expressed in the dissemination of information aimed at the formation of non-traditional sexual facilities, attractiveness of non-traditional sexual relations, a distorted picture of the social equivalence of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations, or the imposition of information about non-traditional sexual relations, causing interest in relationships…
In plain English, the new law says there are four kinds of “gay propaganda” that can get you in trouble while you’re in Russia:
1. Encouraging minors to form LGBT groups.
2. Making LGBT relationships and lifestyles look “attractive” to minors.
3. Giving minors the “distorted” impression that LGBT relationships are as normal as traditional heterosexual relationships.
4. Forcing pro-LGBT information on minors.
In short, doing anything that portrays LGBT life in a positive way near anyone under the age of eighteen is illegal in Russia. Vladimir Putin has assured reporters that this law is “not about imposing some sort of sanctions on homosexuality,” but yeah: that’s exactly what law does.
Here are a few of the things that’ll get you arrested in Russia:
4. Marching at a Pride parade while holding a rainbow flag.
9. Don’t even think about telling gay teens in Russia “it gets better.”
(No, seriously. Thinking about it is probably illegal.)