YouTube removed a video that seeks to harness homophobia to cement Vladimir Putin's stranglehold over his nation.
Russians will soon vote on constitutional reforms that could reset Putin's presidential term and allow him to remain in power until 2036, Reuters reports. As part of that effort, the government created an ad that suggests the only thing standing in the way of LGBTQ+ people adopting children is the current leader. In the clip, a child is despondent after finding out his two new parents are both men, one of whom tries to give the boy a dress to wear. Adding to the blantant fearmongering is a shot of an orphanage worker spitting at the ground in disgust.
“Will you choose such a Russia? Decide the future of the country — vote for amendments to the constitution,” a voiceover says.
Local and international human rights group decried the ad, saying it foments hate and incites violence against gays. Putin's Russia has been at war with its LGBTQ+ citizens for years — a 2013 law banned so-called gay propaganda aimed at children. Russia is also considering a constitutional amendment that would forever ban same-sex marriage. And officials in the semi-autonomous Russian state of Chechyna have kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, and murdered LGBTQ+ people, mostly gay and bisexual men, in the last few years. A new documentary from gay director David France chronicles the terror campaign against gays in Chechyna.
Responding to criticism over the recent antigay ad, YouTube removed and banned it. Alexei Navalny, a political rival of Putin's, also blasted the ad and said the president has finally lost his mind over homosexuality.