Russia fines TikTok over €‎50,000 for violating 'LGBT propaganda' law

According to authorities in Russia, TikTok is guilty of "promoting non-traditional values, LGBT, feminism and a distorted representation of traditional sexual values".

A phone showing social media platform TikTok, which was fined in Russia for violating the law on 'LGBT propaganda'.
Image: Via Unsplash - Olivier Bergeron

On Tuesday, October 4, a court in Russia fined social media platform TikTok 3 million roubles (over €50,000) over the refusal to remove content that the Russian authorities deemed to be in violation of the country’s law on “LGBT propaganda”.

As reported by Reuters, ByteDance-owned platform TikTok was found guilty of an administrative offence in Russia for failing to delete content that was allegedly “promoting non-traditional values, LGBT, feminism and a distorted representation of traditional sexual values”. As a result, the company was fined 3 million roubles by Moscow’s Tagansky District Court.

The Russian law against so-called ‘LGBT propaganda’ was introduced in 2013 to censor queer content destined for minors. However, such legislation has often been used to intimidate LGBTQ+ activists and oppress the Russian queer community, in addition to preventing children from accessing inclusive media.

Earlier this year, it was reported that lawmakers in Russia are considering expanding the existing law to include adults and increasing fines towards whoever exposes children to “LGBT propaganda”.

When implementing such legislation, as in the case of TikTok, authorities in Russia claim that they are defending public morality against alleged un-Russian values imposed by the West. Indeed, this is the latest development in a long-running dispute between Russia and several Big Tech companies, which aims at suppressing Western firms’ influence in the country.

In a similar case, Twitch, the streaming service owned by Amazon, was also fined for hosting a video interview with Oleksiy Arestovych, one of the advisers of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The allegations against Twitch entail spreading unreliable information about what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

This is related to a law passed in early March in Russia that prohibits spreading “fake” information about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and “discrediting” the armed forces. Sentences can go up to 15 years in prison and foreign tech firms have been warned against violating such law.

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