Russian Newspaper Accused of Violating 'Gay Propaganda' Law

A story about a teacher who was fired for being gay drew the attention of media regulators.

BY Trudy Ring

November 14 2013 3:04 PM ET

A Russian newspaper is under investigation for possible violation of the nation’s “gay propaganda” law after publishing a story about a teacher who was fired for being gay.

The paper, Molodoi Dalnevostochnik, located in the Khabarovsk region in far eastern Russia, published an interview in September with Alexander Yermoshkin, a Khabarovsk middle-school geography teacher and LGBT activist who was let go a few days before the beginning of the school year, The Moscow Times reports. More than 600 residents, representing a group called the Movement Against Sexual Perversions, had sent school administrators a letter demanding that Yermoshkin be fired because his activities might make children think “nontraditional relations are as normal as traditional ones.”

Someone who read the interview registered a complaint with the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service, the Russian government’s media watchdog. Representatives of the agency have contacted the editor and conducted an investigation, but no charges have been filed yet, the Times reports.

“State investigators particularly disliked Yermoshkin’s quote, ‘My very existence is effective proof that homosexuality is normal,’” the Times notes.

“This statement goes against logic,” said Galina Yegoshina, a specialist from the agency’s regional branch. “By offering it to underage readers, the author is misleading them about the normality of homosexuality. According to the author’s logic, it would be possible to call normal and even effective the existence of rapists and serial killers.”

Molodoi Dalnevostochnik’s editor responded that the story also shows the negative aspects of being gay. The story ran on the paper’s fourth page, but the front page carried a warning that the content was for readers aged 16 and older. Russia’s “propaganda law” forbids making accessible to minors anything that might show LGBT people or identities in a positive light.

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