Story at a glance

  • Authorities in Russia are reportedly investigating Netflix for violating a law on the dissemination of “gay propaganda.”
  • Netflix could face a fine of 1 million roubles or a temporary suspension in Russia.
  • Russia’s state media and communications regulator has said it is considering sweeping bans of television shows and movies on streaming services displaying “gay propaganda.”

Authorities in Russia are investigating a complaint against Netflix accusing the streaming giant of violating a Russian law on disseminating “gay propaganda.”

Olga Baranets, the "public commissioner for the protection of the family" from a St. Petersburg community group, complained to the Ministry of Internal Affairs earlier this month that the U.S.-based streaming service had violated Russian law by giving some of its LGBTQ-themed content a “16+” age rating, according to the Russian-language newspaper Vedomosti.

Under the referenced law, passed in 2013, “deviant” content, with the exception of pedophilia, that promotes “non-traditional sexual relations" may only be broadcast or streamed if it is marked with an “18+” age rating.

Citing an unnamed Netflix source, Vedomosti reported the platform did not find any LGBTQ+ content labeled with a “16+” age rating during an internal review. But Netflix could still face a fine of up to 1 million roubles, or $13,400, or a temporary suspension in Russia if officials find it has violated the law.


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A Moscow court earlier this month fined Russia’s Muz-TV, largely modeled after the American MTV, 1 million roubles for violating the same law after an awards show featured some stars in gender-bending attire and two male performers arrived together in an entrance viewers compared to a same-sex marriage ceremony.

Russia’s state media and communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, is considering sweeping bans of “perverted” television shows and movies on Netflix and other online streaming services for displays of “gay propaganda” toward minors, Vedomosti reported this month.

That could lead to movies like “50 Shades of Grey” and series like “Billions” being banned by Russian internet providers.

Russia’s “gay propaganda” law has been condemned by Western states and human rights groups, and the European Court of Human Rights in 2017 said the legislation breached European treaty rules, violated the right to freedom of expression, and discriminated against LGBTQ people.

But the law is largely supported by Russia’s socially conservative majority, according to opinion polls and, following a nationwide vote, Russia’s Constitution was amended last year to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, though critics have said the referendum never had a fair shot.

Editor's note: This story and headline was updated on Nov. 30, 2021 to clarify that Olga Baranets is a member of a community group, not the Russian government.


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Published on Nov 29, 2021