June 18, 2019  |  Updated August 14, 2019

Same-Sex Smooches Scare Pro-Kremlin Media

By Nika Aleksejeva

Russian social media users were decidedly mixed about seeing same-sex couples kissing on state-owned television during the Eurovision 2019 song context, while Russian news coverage largely portrayed public reaction as negative.

The coverage of the footage and, more importantly, the reactions to it demonstrated how both government-owned and independent Russian media navigate the country’s so-called “gay propaganda law,” which the parliament passed in 2013. The law forbids exposing minors to content that explains or justifies same-sex relationships.

On May 14, Russian state-owned television channel Rossiya 1 showed several same-sex male couples kissing onscreen during the official live broadcast of Eurovision 2019’s first semi-final. After the fact, Kremlin-owned media outlets remained silent about the footage, while some private-owned pro-Kremlin media outlets characterized the social media reaction as wholly negative, when it was actually mixed.

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