Will Russian Lawmakers Ban Same-Sex Scenes in Movies, TV?

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday November 24, 2021

In this file photo from May 25, 2016, Vitaly Milonov, best known as the author of Russia's anti-gay propaganda law, speaks to The Associated Press in St. Petersburg, Russia
In this file photo from May 25, 2016, Vitaly Milonov, best known as the author of Russia's anti-gay propaganda law, speaks to The Associated Press in St. Petersburg, Russia  (Source:AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)

Russia already has a "no homo promo" law that forbids speaking about or indicating support for the LGBTQ+ community in public, but lawmakers there are poised to consider fresh restrictions when it comes to suggestions of same-sex relationships in movies and on TV, RT reported.

"Speaking to RIA Novosti on Monday about the proposals, Vitaly Milonov of the governing United Russia party confirmed that the law will be scrutinized in the State Duma and that work on the text is underway," RT detailed.

Milonov — the author of that infamous "no homo promo" law, which was passed in 2013 — has been outspoken about his virulently anti-LGBTQ+ views, going so far as to say last August that non-heterosexual people should be "sterilized," and claimed that they represent the "lowest stage of development of the animal world," RT recalled.

Those comments were too much for some even in Russia; RT recalled that "the head of Russia's Human Rights Council, Valery Fadeev, said he should 'watch his language' on the subject" after Milonov gave voice to these sentiments.

The purported bill comes after renewed attacks on women, the LGBTQ+ community, and even straight people who do not choose to become parents, with Andrei Tsyganov, the head of TASS, a state news org, declaring those segments of the population to be "extremist," and promoting a ban on speech deemed supportive of "radical" feminism, equality for sexual minorities, and the freedom to choose not to reproduce.

The proposed ban on scenes showing same-sex love onscreen also comes even as, RT noted, "a member of Russia's Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights" said "that he had developed a 'catalog' to mark so-called 'toxic content' on the internet" — the "toxic content" in question being, once again, "radical feminism, 'childfree' lifestyles," and discussion or depiction of LGBTQ+ topics.

While it is hard to know whether the Russian government's longstanding anti-LGBTQ+ animus is driving public sentiment or the other way around, a recent poll "revealed that 80% of respondents believe that it is unacceptable to show homosexual relations in films and TV shows with age 18+ restrictions, while 57% of Russians surveyed said that the screening of scenes showing what they consider to be 'sexual deviance' should be banned," RT relayed.

Milonov pointed to the poll, saying, "The legal solution to this situation is just around the corner."

Milonov ranked suggestions of same-sex commitment and affection with hardcore depictions of sexual conduct, saying that the proposed law would allow people to watch films and TV shows with LGBTQ+ content by means of "special access to such videos, as well as with pornography."

Banning speech is evidently Milonov's preferred form of governance. Not only is he the author of the 2013 "no homo promo" law, but in 2018 he suggested criminalizing any criticism or ridicule of the Russian soccer team.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.