Russian singer jailed under LGBTQ+ propaganda laws after nude performance

LGBTQ+ rights activists during a protest in St. Petersburg.

A Russian singer has been jailed under the country’s LGBTQ+ propaganda laws after performing a show wearing nothing but a sock on his genitals. 

On Monday night (8 January), Maxim Tesli, front man of Shchenki (The Puppies), was detained at a St Petersburg airport. 

It has been reported by Russian media that he was planning to leave Russia amid growing calls for his arrests, following a video of his performance going viral. 

At court the following day, Tesli was jailed for 10 days on charges of petty hooliganism.

In November, Russia’s supreme court effectively outlawed LGBTQ+ activism by branding the “international public LGBT movement” – which does not actually exist – “extremists”. 

Tesli’s arrest follows rapper Nikolai Vasilyev being jailed for doing the same thing at a party just weeks before, Reuters reported.

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Vasilyev, known as Vacio, was jailed for 15 days and fined 200,000 roubles ($2,211; £1,739) for propaganda of “non-traditional sexual relations” after also using a sock to hide his genitals at an “Almost Naked” party at a Moscow nightclub.

It is not known if Tesli’s stunt was in support of Vacio. 

Following his 15-day sentence, Vacio was arrested again on hooliganism charges and sentenced to a further 10 days in detention, The Moscow Times reported. 

Human rights groups in Russia and beyond have condemned the “gay propaganda laws”, with Igor Kochetkov, the head of the Russian LGBT Network, saying the legislation means that queer activism will effectively be impossible in the future.

Russia has also implemented laws banning gender-affirming procedures for trans people and prohibits what it described as “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person”.

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