Russia investigates videos of children talking with members of LGBT community

Russia investigates videos of children talking with members of LGBT community

A rainbow flag flies during a demonstration in Berlin on May 17, 2015. (Gregor Fischer/AFP via Getty Images)

Homophobia is widespread in Russia where reports of rights violations and attacks on LGBT people are common.

Russian police said Saturday they had opened an investigation into “sexual violence” after a video series published online showed children talking with members of the LGBT community and other minorities.

The videos, on the “Real Talk” YouTube channel, featured interviews by children under 14 with homosexuals, a transvestite, a former porn actress and a female dwarf, according to Russian media reports.

Published from last December onwards, they have since been deleted.

“Investigators have questioned the person responsible for these shoots” and were trying to identify the victims, said a statement from a Russian investigative committee.

The videos showed “minors and children discussing various sexual matters with adults”, it said, describing some of the contents of the broadcasts as “destructive information”.

In Russia, the offence of “sexual violence” can carry a jail term of between 12 and 20 years.

News website Meduza said that in one of the interviews a man who introduced himself as gay asked the children what they knew about homosexuality and explained to them that it was normal.

The children in the video asked him how he discovered his sexuality and if he wanted to raise children.

One of the videos had been viewed two million times, according to Russian media reports.

In September Piotr Tolstoi, vice-president of Russia’s lower parliamentary chamber, told the Russia-24 channel that he had informed the interior ministry of the videos.

Late October, Tolstoi published on his Facebook page that the ministry had told him it had opened an investigation for a possible violation of a 2013 law banning “gay propaganda”.

Russian LGBT community often faces official hostility.

Last month, a Russian court blocked two popular LGBT networking sites for disseminating “anti-family values”.

The 2013 law against “gay propaganda” officially bans the “promotion of non-traditional lifestyles to minors” but in effect outlaws LGBT activism.

Homophobia is widespread in Russia where reports of rights violations and attacks on LGBT people are common, though there are gay scenes in major cities.

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