Netflix faces Russian probe after being accused of ‘gay propaganda’ by official

Person in brown pants uses Netflix while on a Macbook Pro

Russian authorities are reportedly investigating Netflix after a public official accused the streaming platform of violating the country’s “gay propaganda” law.

The Moscow department of the Interior Ministry is looking into a complaint filed by Olga Baranets, the “public commissioner for protecting families”, against Netflix within 30 days, according to Reuters. Baranets seemingly took issue with Netflix broadcasting LGBT-themed content with a “16+” rating.

She told Russian news outlet Vedomosti that Netflix’s “colourful collection of films and TV series tells about the lives of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people”.

The hateful legislation, which was signed by Vladimir Putin in 2013, bans the “promotion” of “non-traditional sexual relationships” to anyone under the age of 18. Anyone found in violation of the so-called “gay propaganda” law faces steep fines or 15 years in prison.

If found in breech of the law, Vedomosti said Netflix could race a fine of up to !m roubles or a temporary suspension of its services.

It’s unclear from the reports what LGBT+ content on Netflix that Baranets specifically flagged for investigation. However, an unnamed Netflix source told Vedomosti that the platform conducted an internal review and did not find any LGBT-themed content with a 16+ rating.

Earlier this month, a Moscow court fined Russian music channel Muz-TV for violating the “gay propaganda law”. The channel was reportedly fined 1m rubles after it broadcasted a man wearing a dress at an awards show as well as two men arriving at the ceremony together.

In July, a print shop in Russia reportedly refused to print BTS greeting cards and banners for a K-pop themed cafe, insisting they were “gay propaganda”.

The PinkyPop café said it had wanted to print items representing their customers’ favourite groups, BTS and Stray Kids. But the print shop claimed it wouldn’t be printing the products because the K-pop groups had a “non-traditional orientation”, referring to the country’s so-called “gay propaganda” ban.

Russian’s parliament is set to consider a bill which could reclassify films containing queer content – only allowing “special access” to the films like “with pornography”.

Anti-LGBT+ Russian MP Vitaly Milonov, who was reprimanded recently after he called for gay people to be “sterilised” and kept in shelters like cats, told state-owned news agency RIA Novotsi that there was public demand for banning LGBT+ content in films. He added that a “legal solution to this situation” was “just around the corner”.

“Whoever wants can have special access to such videos, as well as with pornography,” he said.