Canada summons Russian ambassador Oleg Stepanov to explain ‘hateful’ anti-LGBTQ+ tweets

Oleg Stepanov speaking over webcam in front of a draped Russian flag and a doorway

The Canadian government has called on a Russian ambassador to justify several anti-LGBTQ+ posts he made on social media.

Russia’s ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov has reportedly been summoned by the government after demands by foreign affairs minister Mélanie Joly.

Stepanov has repeatedly posted anti-LGBTQ+ messages across various social media channels, including on the Twitter profile for the Canadian-Russian embassy.

The array of homophobic posts started on 25 November with an image of the Pride flag crossed out and a tweet that read: “It is all about family. Family is a man and a woman and children.” Unbelievably, this attracted more than 57,000 likes.

Later, the page also claimed Canada was complicit in supporting a “neoliberal agenda” that supposedly aims to conflate “the concepts of individual sexual preferences and universal human rights”.

The onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric continued up until Sunday (27 November), when the page said: “In Russia, you are free to be you and to protect your children while they are minors from being imposed and imprinted by aggressive propaganda.”

Canadian officials were dumbfounded by the array of homophobic and transphobic posts, especially considering the shooting that had taken place in Colorado Springs in the US less than a week prior.

A spokesperson for minister Joly said the Russian ambassador had chosen “hateful propaganda” and called it “an attack on the Canadian values of acceptance and tolerance”.

Melanie Joly speaks during the 67 infront of a navy blue backdrop, while wearing a dark green suit and a poppy.

Canadian foreign minister Melanie Joly lambasted the comments made by Oleg Stepanov. (Getty)

The comments have come after Russia moved forward on legislation amendments that would ban all LGBTQ+ media.

The “LGBTQ+ propaganda law” was passed through the Russian government’s State Duma on 24 November and is expected to be approved by president Vladimir Putin in the next few days.

Once approved, it will amend a law currently in effect for under-18s, that prevents media in the country from “promoting non-traditional values, LGBT, feminism, and a distorted representation of traditional sexual values”.

Oleg Stepanov asks queer politician how she ‘appeared in this world’

The embassy’s Twitter page also responded to queer Canadian politician Pascale St-Onge – who said “Russian homophobic propaganda is not welcome here” – asking her “how [she] appeared in this world?”.

The post accompanied an unexplained photo of the Romanov family, which ruled over Russia for three centuries before the Russian revolution in 1917.

In response, a spokesperson said the minister was “profoundly offended” by the message and that Canadians “will always stand up for what [they] believe in”.

“We absolutely can’t tolerate this rhetoric and even less the subsequent comments on minister St-Onge’s response.”

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