Russian libraries start pulling LGBTQ+ books from shelves as Putin signs ‘propaganda’ law

Vladimir Putin stares at someone off camera while sitting in front of a Russian flag after signing an extended LGBTQ+ 'propaganda' bill into law

Moscow libraries and booksellers are removing LGBTQ+ books from shelves amid crackdowns on queer authors and materials.

Several books with LGBTQ+ themes or storylines are no longer available in libraries, or to buy online or physically, after their authors were declared “foreign agents” according to Meduza.

Four Moscow libraries have reportedly removed the books, after being told “over the phone” to pull them from shelves.

An anonymous source told the Russian publication The Village that employees from libraries in Moscow’s Central Administrative Districts received orders to remove books that are also critical of the war in Ukraine.

“They dictated the names over the phone with embarrassment,” the source said, listing off several authors, including Dmitry Glukhovsky, Andrey Makarevich and Ekaterina Shulman.

Vladimir Putin standing next to Marat Khusnullin as they walk across the Crimean bridge.
Vladimir Putin signed the ‘LGBT propaganda’ amendments on Monday (5 December). (Getty)

“We were also told over the phone to pull from the shelves, at our discretion, books with pictures showing ‘LGBT propaganda’.”

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Several libraries had reportedly already removed books they deemed ‘LGBT propaganda’ in anticipation of future inspections by government officials.

Vladimir Putin signed an expanded ‘LGBT propaganda’ law on Monday (5 December).

Legislation currently bans all LGBTQ+ media directed at children, under punishment of fines ranging up to 5 million roubles (£68,327) or 15 days in prison for non-nationals.

The new law extends the ban to all ages.

State Duma information committee chairman Alexander Khinshtein, who originally introduced the new ban, said that the war in Ukraine had given the law a “new relevance.”

“The special military operation takes place not only on the battlefield but also in the minds and souls of people,” he added. “LGBT today is an element of hybrid warfare, and in this hybrid warfare we must protect our values.

In response to the State Duma passing the law on 24 November, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups said it was an attempt to “further intimidate and oppress sexual minorities in Russia.”

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