Russia has banned a festival celebrating gay fish.
No, we’re not joking.
The Arkhangelsk local authorities has banned a rally in the city in honor of gay smelt – a type of small fish – which was being planned for 25 January.
Gay rights activists were hoping to hold ‘gay fish’ banners and placards, as well as calling for a ban on overfishing this staple of the Russian diet.
This isn’t completely crazy. St Petersburg holds an annual Festival of Smelt every May which has been held off-and-on for over 300 years.
While the idea of honoring gay fish is clearly intended to be a joke, it was also actually pretty cunning.
Alongside the ‘gay fish festival’ request, gay rights activists also asked for the right to march for LGBTI victims of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and also wished to hold two Winter Pride events.
By banning all four requests, activists are hoping to make clear Russian authorities are putting a tribute to gay fish in the same category as a protest against extremism.
Arkhangelsk local authorities said they refused all four requests due to the federal ‘gay propaganda’ law that bans the promotion of homosexuality to under 18s.
Nikolai Alekseev, the founder of Moscow Pride, said: ‘We will sue in Russia, and we are ready to bring this matter to the European Court of Justice.’