Members of the LGBT community and their advocates are not outlawed in Russia, like they are in some prominent US allies like Saudi Arabia – but their sexual orientation is certainly not normalized or celebrated, or even well-tolerated, like it is in the West.
In 2013, Russia passed a law banning “gay propaganda” that can affect minors under 16 years of age – a broad definition meaning such places as print and digital media, billboards, and elsewhere such as online.
It seems to be this piece of legislation that is now used to make life difficult for 26-year-old artist and LGBT activist Yulia Tsvetkova, a report by the US-funded Radio Free Europe who highlighted the plight of Tsvetkova, a resident of a town in Russia's Far East is saying.
The authorities took issue with several pages that she runs on social media networks that the broadcaster does not name – while the pages are dedicated to women's art and LGBT issues.
The artist has already been fined the equivalent of $780 – not for being an LGBT activist per se, but for running two LGBT-themed groups.
Specifically, Tsvetkova has been charged with sharing “propaganda” of nontraditional sexual relations among minors after she posted her work to social media, and Radio Free Europe said that this is a common charge used against LGBT artists.
Investigators also questioned Tsvetkova for her role in organizing a youth theater festival that she said focused on exploring traditional gender roles.
One of the parents of a student actor who took part in the production told the broadcaster that she didn't see any propaganda and inappropriateness in the play.
Tsvetkova is also behind body positivity illustrations posted online, in a campaign dubbed “A woman is not a doll,” and drawings of women's body parts suggestive of, but not explicitly showing genitalia. The police investigated her for this and put her under two months house arrest.
But if the charge of distributing pornography online sticks, and if she is found guilty, she could face up to six years in prison, said the report.