A pair of popular Russia-based LGBT bloggers have been arrested in Russia on charges of violating the country’s law outlawing gay “propaganda,” their lawyer said Wednesday.
Khaoyan Suy, a Chinese citizen, and Gela Gogishvili, an ethnically Georgian citizen of Russia, document their life as an openly gay, interracial, non-Slavic couple living in Russia on their popular social media channels, including on TikTok, YouTube and Telegram.
The two men are accused of violating Russia’s law that prohibits “propaganda” of LGBT relationships with a video on their YouTube channel.
They now face a fine of up to 50,000 rubles ($628) or arrest, while Suy also faces deportation from Russia, the couple’s lawyer Adel Khaydarshin told the Telegram news channel SOTA.
Police detained Suy on Wednesday at a Burger King restaurant in Kazan after he failed to present his passport and registration documents during a document check.
Suy asked his partner to bring his documents to the restaurant, but both men were arrested as soon as Gogishvilli arrived.
The couple, who met in Moscow and have been living in the republic of Tatarstan’s capital Kazan since 2021, were targeted by St. Petersburg-based anti-LGBT activist Timur Bulatov in March and have since faced death threats and harassment.
One of Suy’s professors at Kazan University had also threatened to report him to the police for violating Russia’s anti-LGBT law, according to an interview with the couple published by the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty outlet last month.
Russia expanded its controversial law against so-called “gay propaganda” late last year to outlaw virtually all public expression and depictions of LGBT relationships and lifestyles.