photo of Haoyang Xu and Gela Gogishvili, via YouTube screenshot

Kazan, Russia – Daniel Villarreal reports in LGBTQ Nation that on March 5th, authorities in the southwestern city of Kazan approached 21-year-old Chinese national Haoyang Xu after he and his partner, 23-year-old Russian native Gela Gogishvili, had finished visiting a museum with friends, Newsweek reported. Authorities asked Xu for his passport and student visa. He didn’t have them on him.

After accompanying the couple to retrieve the documents, officers took them to the Yapeyeva police station and informed them that they had broken the propaganda law. The officers allegedly forbade the couple from speaking to lawyers and tried to make them sign numerous documents – the couple refused. After arguing with police, the couple shared messages with their 740,000 TikTok followers and 64,900 YouTube subscribers. Xu was placed in a detention center for migrants and was scheduled to be deported to China seven days later. Gogishvili, who pledged to challenge Xu’s deportation, may face a fine of 100,000 to 200,000 rubles ($1,237 to $2,474). “We were very scared … it became a living hell because the impossible happened,” Gogishvili said. “Police were not polite to us, but there was no serious abuse and I hope it stays that way,” he added, noting that police took Xu’s phone, leaving Gogishvili unsure of his condition.

Police had been asking about Gogishvili’s whereabouts since early March according to Vladimir Komov, senior partner of the Moscow-based LGBTQ+ group, DELO LGBT+. Komov said the couple was “quite popular” on social media and posted content that was “not erotic.” “How did the police informer and the Kazan police deem there was LGBT+ ‘propaganda’ on their social media?” Komov rhetorically asked Newsweek. These guys just posted videos in which they kiss, hug, and show their favorite sleeping poses. All this was considered an inappropriate demonstration of ‘homosexual intimacy.’”

Russian President Vladimir Putin first signed a law banning so-called “gay propaganda” in Russia in June 2013. The law ostensibly sought to “protect children” from any “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships,” as stated in the law’s text. The new law extends the restrictions to not just children but Russians of all ages. Last December, Putin signed a law expanding the country’s prohibition on LGBTQ+ “propaganda.” The newly signed law effectively outlaws any public expression of LGBTQ+ life in Russia.

Anti-LGBTQ+ religious leaders and right-wing political figures in the U.S. have praised Putin for his law.

Source: Daniel Villarreal, LGBTQ Nation 


Haoyang & Gela: Love story in a land of hate