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Russia fines Google for refusing to remove LGBTQ+ content

Google has been fined three million rubles (£31,000) by Russia after it refused to remove content which the country said promoted same-sex relationships.

The penalty was also imposed for Google showing “false information” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Russia’s strict anti-LGBTQ+ laws prohibit what it calls the “promotion of LGBT propaganda”.

Attempts to “promote” homosexuality in public, online or in media could result in heavy fines – dozens of which have been imposed on Western tech companies in the last year.

Russian prosecutors said Google refused to remove several videos posted to YouTube by a vlogger it had dubbed a so-called “foreign agent”, one of which included information about same-sex couples raising children together and St. Petersburg’s LGBTQ+ community.

Russia’s ‘LGBT propaganda’ law now applies to all adults

Last year, President Vladimir Putin signed a law expanding Russia’s ‘LGBT propaganda’ restrictions to all adults.

The move effectively outlawed any public expression of LGBTQ+ behaviour or lifestyle in the country.

The original version of it was implemented in 2013 and put a ban on the promotion of all “non-traditional” sexual relationships among minors.

It has since been used as justification to stop Pride marches, prevent minors from watching content with LGBTQ+ themes and to detain activists.

Under the new legislation, which was signed into law by Putin on 5 December 2022, any event or act viewed as an attempt to “promote” homosexuality could result in a fine of up to 400,000 roubles (£5,400) for individuals and 4,000,000 roubles (£68,400) for legal entities.

Despite homosexuality being legal in Russia since 1993, LGBTQ+ people face ongoing societal challenges in the country.

Hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity are not prohibited by law, and no anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ exist.


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