Advertisement

In a bizarre move reflecting Russia’s intensifying crackdown on LGBTQ+ representation, a Siberian official has objected to a seemingly innocuous promotional image.

The photo, depicting two men in summer attire enjoying ice cream amidst Siberia’s harsh winter, has been criticised for allegedly promoting “non-traditional relationships.”

This development follows Russia’s recent legislative actions, including the November 2022 law that bans “LGBT propaganda.” This law, criminalising any perceived promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” across various media and public spaces, is set to take effect on January 10, 2024. However, preemptive actions, including raids on LGBTQ+ venues, signal stringent enforcement before its official implementation.

Advertisement

The controversial image, captured in 2020 in Novosibirsk, Siberia’s largest city, showcases two men from a local tourism club savouring ice cream in freezing temperatures, indicated by a digital sign displaying minus 33 degrees Celsius. The photo was intended to exhibit the resilience of Siberians against extreme cold humorously. However, Alexander Tarasov, chair of the standing committee on culture, interpreted the image differently, advising against its display in future cultural and tourism promotional materials.

Svetlana Kaverzina, a Novosibirsk City Council deputy, relayed Tarasov’s concerns to Sib.fm, revealing the official’s linkage of the image to LGBTQ+ themes. Despite the image’s objective to demonstrate strength and endurance in cold weather, it sparked a debate on Kaverzina’s Telegram account. Responses ranged from criticising the over-interpretation of homosexuality in everyday scenarios to questioning the rationale behind associating the image with LGBTQ+ propaganda.

This incident in Novosibirsk mirrors a broader trend in Russia, where heightened sensitivity and restrictive measures against LGBTQ+ representations are becoming increasingly prevalent. Prominent examples include Russian lawmaker Maria Butina’s call for banning Barbie dolls due to LGBTQ+ themes in the recent Barbie movie, illustrating the extent of Russia’s campaign against what it perceives as threats to traditional gender and sexual norms.

Advertisement