On Sep 21, 2016 The Daily Beast reported: MOSCOW — Russia’s gay-banning frenzy continues. It’s putting pressure on LGBT people all across the country, stopping them from marching, and even pushing some back toward the closet.
Russian hardliners like to claim that homosexuality is an “evil” sent to Russia from the West to reduce the already declining population. But until recently, the internet remained a safe space for Russian homosexuals, and online dating services grew increasingly popular, even in the most provincial towns.
Earlier this year, a court in the little town of Parabel in Siberia, without any warning or explanation, decided to ban BlueSystem, one of Russia’s most popular LGBT websites. Then the government’s telecommunications agency, Roskomnadzor, reacted to the court decision and banned the site. Internet providers started blocking it, without any notice to the BlueSystem administrators until, this month, the website’s users were astonished to see it shut down completely.
“The Kremlin is afraid of gays,” the BlueSystem team wrote in a post last week on its VKontakte social media page. “On the eve of the State Duma elections, the Kremlin activated its repressive machine and included the most popular Runet gay site, visited by over 100,000 people a day, in a list of banned internet resources.”
Moscow human rights activists were not surprised to discover such a measure was taken, as a new wave of pressure has begun.
“LGBT resources get blocked as part of a broader crackdown on freedom of expression online,” Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director for Human Rights Watch, told The Daily Beast. “The authorities are also attempting to shut down Children-404 (Deti-404), an online support group for LGBT teens.”
In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, gay activists often end up beaten or arrested for any attempts to demonstrate for their rights. When the Russian parliament passed a homophobic bill banning gay “propaganda” in 2013, dozens of gay activists took part in a “kissing protest” outside the State Duma in Moscow. They were harassed and pelted with eggs by anti-gay protesters. Police then detained about 20 LGBT activists. “The infamous gay propaganda law is used as a key tool to silence LGBT people,” Lokshina added.