Russia’s next target? Gay emojis – yes, really…

Gay emojis encourage “untraditional sexual relations among minors” and “harm to their health and development” say Russian government officials.

Emojis are set to be the latest casualty of Russian President Vladamir Putin’s crackdown on “gay propaganda.”

Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor requested an investigation be carried out the rapid increase in the use of of gay emojis, reports Vocativ.

Roskomnadzor – the government group responsible for policing the Russian media – wrote a letter to pro-Kremlin youth group Young Guard of United Russia, requesting the group’s members investigate emojis and their use on social medias.

They claim that gay emojis might violate the countrywide ban on the ““promotion of non-traditional sexual relations”,” according to Roskomnadzor.

Emojis such as the gay and lesbian same-sex couples and same-sex couples kissing have caused particular concern, according to the federal watchdog’s statement.

Deputy Head of Roskomnadzor, Maxim Ksenzov Mikhael Marchenko, said in the statement that LGBT friendly emojis are part of “the spread on social media of untraditional sexual relations among minors” that “denies family values” and “forms disrespect for parents and other family members.”

The move comes as Russia’s crackdown on what the government deems “gay propoganda” continues to intensify – after President Putin signed legislation aimed at tackling “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” in 2013.

Roskomnadzor was set up to enforce the idea that homosexuality online will impact the mental health of innocent children who scour social media – they claim it is their role to protect the country’s children “from information that’s harmful to their health and development.”

Other casualties of the law include the founder of an online LGBT forum for Russian teens, who was recently prosecuted by the government for aiding the increasingly oppressed gay community from both the government and ‘vigilante’ groups, who often operate with impunity.

Yelena Klimova was fined by a court for 50,000 roubles on the charge that her website Deti-404 spread “unhealthy” LGBT propaganda to minors.

However, it is yet to be confirmed if ‘smiley face with sticky out tongue’ or ‘shocked cat’ will face similar treatment, as a spokesperson of Young Guard said the group hadn’t yet officially received the request from Roskomnadzor but would look into it.