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Russian Crackdown on ‘Gay Propaganda’ Extends to Calvin Klein Ad

Residents have filed complaints against two Calvin Klein commercials they saw on YouTube.

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Here are some things that Russian authorities have labeled gay propaganda: holding signs that say “Gay is OK”; rainbow balloons; a friendship between a captive goat and tiger; and reporting on gay rights. Now, a Calvin Klein ad is being investigated as a potential offender after complaints were filed in the northern town of Arkhangelsk by locals who watched it on YouTube, according to the gay news website Pink News.

The advertisement, which features two men riding on a motorcycle together and two women running behind a fence and flashing freeway drivers, is the subject of a three-week investigation into whether it violates a 2013 law that legally prohibited promoting “non-traditional sexual relationships” to children. The ad also shows two opposite-sex couples kissing.

The 2013 law has had a chilling effect on LGBT rights activists and LGBT people in Russia, who have reported increased levels of harassment and hate crimes. Last month, a proposal to jail LGBT individuals who are open about their identity found support in Russia’s legislature, though the proposal was ultimately rejected.

In January, the author of the 2013 law told Russian news outlet Meduza that the West has forced its “demonic desires” onto the rest of the world. This month, Russia moved to block the United Nations from extending marital benefits to same-sex couples.

Another Calvin Klein ad, available on YouTube, was also subject to a complaint by a resident of Arkhangelsk. This ad featured two shirtless male adolescents unplugging phones and computers, chatting on a bed with pink sheets, and blowing out a match. The ad will be analyzed by Russian authorities to determine if the content is illegal.

Watch the offending advertisements below:

Photo credit: Calvin Klein/YouTube

Megan Alpert is a fellow at Foreign Policy. Her previous bylines have included The Guardian, Guernica Daily, and Earth Island Journal. @megan_alpert

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