Russia: Teen theatre artists questioned under ‘gay propaganda’ law

25 March 2019
Russian authorities have cancelled a youth theatre play for promoting “hatred against men and non-traditional family relations”.
Image: Color of Saffron festival poster / Festival of activist art “Color of saffron” on VK


Russian authorities banned the youth arts festival Tsvet Shafrana (The Color of Saffron) after anti-extremism police interrogated the festival’s director Yulia Tsvetkova and teenage actors over alleged “gay propaganda” in a play called Blue and Pink, reported Hyperallergic.

“During the interrogation, I felt insecure and stupid,” said one of the teens, according to Radio Liberty’s Sibir Realii. “All the time they asked me the same question: ‘Did the topic of LGBT people come up during your classes? Did Yulia tell you about this? Did you learn about LGBT from her?’ I explained to them that I learned this through the internet, the media, my environment, and that we didn’t raise this question in class.”

Color of Saffron festival was due to take place on 16 and 17 March 2019. Festival organisers described it as “the first city festival of activist art”, with a program of “four unique theatrical and dance performances” from youth actors from Merak Theater. 

Authorities reportedly banned the play in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in eastern Russia for promoting “hatred against men and non-traditional family relations”. Yulia Tsvetkova claims that authorities had an issue with the words ‘Blue’ and ‘Pink’ in the play title because those colours denote the LGBTQ community in Russia.

Festival organisers announced the cancellation on Russian social media platform VK on 15 March 2019. However, the festival was still held behind closed doors and filmed, which you can watch below.

According to Human Rights Watch, Russian “gay propaganda” law, which came to power in June 2013, bans the “promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors”.

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