Kazakhstan: Court fines ad company over gay kiss poster

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An advertising agency in Kazakhstan has been hit with a fine over a poster of two 19th Century cultural figures kissing.

The controversial advert for a gay club in Almaty, which went up last month, features Kazakh composer Kurmangazy Sagyrbayuly and Russian poet Anexander Pushkin locking lips.

News of the poster quickly spread on social media, with more than 20 activists filing a lawsuit claiming the advert “insults both Kazakhs and Russians”.

This week, a court found advertising agency Havas Worldwide Kazakhstan guilty of advertising ‘banned goods and services’, and they were hit with a $1700 fine.

Despite winning an advertising award for the poster, the firm apologised following the backlash, and said it would no longer display it in public.

One of the artists involved in creating the advert, was quoted to have said: “One can be proud of this work. First of all because it works: people understand and remember the address.

“Secondly, it is a brave work, and in the case of the gay movement, traditionally living on the edge, it is more than accurate and justified.”

Despite homosexuality being decriminalised in 1998, anti-gay attitudes are still common in Kazakhstan.