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Russia Fines Streaming Platform Under ‘LGBT Propaganda’ Law

A still from "Perfect Strangers." Netflix

Russian authorities have for the first time fined a streaming platform under its law prohibiting so-called “LGBT propaganda,” the RBC news website reported Friday, citing the federal media regulator.

St. Petersburg’s Magistrate Court fined Trikolor Kino i TV 1.2 million rubles ($15,000) during a trial held Tuesday, according to the outlet.

An unnamed manager at the streaming platform implicated in the oversight was also fined 200,000 rubles ($2,500).

Trikolor, which had more than 12 million subscribers as of 2021, declined to identify which content was ruled to be in violation of Russia’s “LGBT propaganda” law, but noted that it had been taken down.

Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor has filed 19 misdemeanor lawsuits against all of the country’s major streaming platforms, according to RBC. 

Roskomnadzor primarily targets the platforms over the 2016 Italian comedy “Perfect Strangers,” which features a character who comes out as gay, RBC cited an unnamed Russian media industry source as saying. 

Russia’s Culture Ministry, which had issued a distribution license for the film with a 16+ age rating, said it was considering revoking the license over its depiction of a gay character.

Russia’s "LGBT propaganda" ban, which initially applied to content targeting minors, was expanded to ban public displays of LGBT relationships and lifestyles to all ages in November, with violations punishable with a fine of up to 5 million rubles ($82,500).

The changes have sent a chill through the Russian arts establishment, with books, movies and artworks withdrawn from public circulation for fear of fines and even criminal charges. 

Moscow's famed Bolshoi Theater in April dropped a ballet about Russian dance legend Rudolf Nureyev to avoid falling afoul of the expanded law.

Russian courts also ruled to deport a Chinese blogger and a German national this year after finding them guilty of violating the LGBT law.

Legal experts cited by RBC warned that Russia’s “LGBT propaganda” law risks being tightened beyond multimillion-ruble fines.

The Kremlin has ramped up its promotion of what it calls “traditional family values” in the months since it launched its offensive in Ukraine.

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