The man behind a YouTube video that feature same-sex kisses is ‘sad’ they have been banned in Russia.
Roman Bashinsky launched his social justice channel Bashinsky Time (BT) to help promote tolerance in Russia and has more than 438,000 subscribers.
A recent series of videos featured a blindfolded person kissing a range of people. Those blindfolded did not know the identity of the people they were kissing, including their gender.
After the kisses, the people had to describe their reaction to the kisses and what they felt.
‘(I made the video) to cultivate tolerance in our country,’ Bashinsky told Gay Star News.
‘For Russia, kissing a man a man is not normal. We want to fix it. Russia must be a civilized and tolerant country.’
Bashinsky uploaded the videos on 30 December, 2018 onto YouTube and other social media platforms including Russia’s version of Facebook, VK.
But less than 24 hours later, YouTube removed the video on its Russian site. Other social media platforms also banned the video.
‘YouTube sends video restrictions alerts,’ Bashinsky explained how he learned of the video’s removal.
Bashinky believed YouTube removed the videos ‘because homophobic employees work in the Russian segment of YouTube’.
‘There can be no other explanation,’ he said.
‘The video does not violate the rules of YouTube. Kissing in the video does not carry sexual connotations, which means video is allowed to be shown to a wide audience.’
The videos still appear under ‘age-restricted content’ on YouTube in countries outside of Russia. But Bashinsky wants the rest of the world to share them to raise awareness of homophobia in Russia.
‘We will fight. Fight to win,’ he said.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Russia, but state sanctioned homophobia has led to arrests of LGBTI activists and the closure of many LGBTI events.
In 2013, President Vladimir Putin introduced the ‘gay propaganda’ law. He claimed the law was ‘for the purpose of protecting children from information advocating for a denial of traditional family values’.
People found violating the law whether on social media, television or through other means face a fine of 5,000 rubles (US $72).
This is offensive
Mikhail Tumasov who heads the Russian LGBT Network, labelled the ban ‘offensive’.
‘I think it’s really offensive when you are banned over kisses,’ he told Gay Star News.
‘Where is the support to LGBTIQ community? It’s not just about marching in prides, but when people face huge discrimination in their everyday life, in a country where people are killed and tortured, fired for being different, in a country where the law says that LGBTIQ relationships are not equal to so called ‘traditional’ ones,’ he said.
‘And now YouTube’s ban confirms these homophobic attitude towards us.
‘Men kissing men, women kissing women are socially equal to men kissing women. Full stop!’