Netflix facing scrutiny in Russia over accusations of violating controversial ‘gay propaganda’ law

Russia is investigating a complaint levied against Netflix that accuses the streamer of violated the country’s strict ‘gay propaganda’ law.

Commissioner Olga Baranets has complained to the Interior Ministry that the streaming company is in breach of a widely criticised law which prohibits the publication “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations” to Russians under the age of 18.

The politician has argued that Netflix has uploaded content with LGBTQIA+ themes, but rated appropriate for ages 16 and up.

According to Reuters, the appeal is being considered by the Moscow department of the Interior Ministry. If found guilty, Netflix could face a RUB 1 million (€11,725) fine and the service could be temporarily suspended in the country.

This is the latest episode for public scrutiny of foreign streaming services in Russia in relation to its presentation of content related to sex and gender. Earlier this month, Vedomosti reported that officials may move to ban any content that shows “non-traditional sexual relationships and sexual deviations,” including popular titles such as Billions and Fifty Shades of Gray.

Internationally, Russia has been heavily condemned for this and related laws. The European Court of Human Rights in 2017 stated that the ‘gay propaganda’ law discriminates against LGBTQIA+ people and violates European rules on freedom of expression.

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