5 Times Russia Censored LGBTQ Books, Theater and Video Games

5 Times Russia Censored LGBTQ Books, Theater and Video Games

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The Russian laws against what the country calls “gay propaganda” are nothing new. Most recently, a Russian publisher came under fire for editing out a gay storyline in an American fantasy series. With that news, we thought we’d take a look at some of the times Russia engaged in anti-gay censorship.

1. The Russian Shades of Magic Removes a Character’s Bisexuality

Fantasy author V.E. Schwab, author of the Shades of Magic series of fantasy novels discovered last week the Russian translation removed a queer subplot. She claims this is in violation of her contract; the publisher didn’t give her the option to reject the changes.

Rosmen, the Russian publisher, says they had to edit her text so they didn’t run afoul of the law. They also say they contacted Schwab’s literary agent about the changes. However, Schwab says that she would have “never agreed to any redacting of [even] one scene.” She added “It would have been better not to publish the book at all.” Schwab intends to end her deal with Rosmen.

2. The Bolshoi Ballet Was Forced To Cancel A Ballet About Rudolf Nureyev

Photo by Allan Warren

This July, the world-famous Bolshoi Theater was set to premiere Nureyev. Kirill Serebrennikov’s new ballet told the story of Rudolf Nureyev. Nureyev was one of the most famous Russian ballerino in the world. He defected to the West in 1961 and was openly gay. The ballet would have featured a fully nude photograph of the dancer, and most of the performers would be dancing with exposed genitalia.

However, three days before the premiere, Bolshoi Theater director Vladimir Urin announced the opening was delayed until May 2018. There has been no word from Nureyev‘s director about the postponement, changes to the ballet or whether or not it will play at all.

RELATED | ‘Tom of Finland’ Director Promises to Smuggle His Film Into Anti-Gay Russia

3. The Overwatch Webcomic About the Lesbian Character Tracer Is Unavailable in Russia

The Blizzard video game Overwatch is hugely popular. One of the reasons gamers love Overwatch so much is due to the tie-in webcomics about the lives of its characters. Last December, fan-favorite Tracer got her own comic where she celebrates Christmas with her girlfriend.

Unfortunately, Russian gamers couldn’t read the comic. Instead, a box reading “In accordance with Russian law, we cannot share this comic with our players in the Russian Federation,” greeted players.

In this case, Blizzard pre-emptively decided not to publish the comic in Russia. They told Eurogamer.net, “We preemptively decided not to publish given the climate in Russia and Legal feedback.”

4. Russia Bans the Image of “Gay” Putin

The entire world has seen the image of Vladimir Putin photoshopped with makeup. In April 2017, Russia banned the image. Russia deemed the image “extremist materials.” Punishments can be harsh — an engineer got 27 months in prison for sharing “extremist materials.”

5. Russia Blocks Its Most Popular Queer Website

BlueSystem was one of Russia’s most popular LGBTQ websites. But last year, a Siberian court banned the site. This led to Roskomnadzor, the government agency handling telecommunications, blocking the site. The agency didn’t inform BlueSystem for months, letting the site’s administrators discover it for themselves. BlueSystem says over 100,000 people a day visited their site.

Honorable Mentions: Proposed Bans

Not all bans go through. For example, this December, news came that Russia may ban the video game FIFA ’17 over the Rainbow Shoelaces campaign. The campaign would let players dress characters in rainbow jerseys. However, we couldn’t find any confirmation of the game actually being banned.

Similarly, the Minister of Culture made noise about banning the recent live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. The new film features a gay scene between Le Fou and Gaston. Ultimately, however, the film was not banned, but it was given an adults-only rating.


Photo by Nomadsoul1 via iStock

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