An LGBTQ and feminist activist in Russia is facing fines and possible jail time for allegedly distributing gay “propaganda” and pornography. Her crimes? Running LGBTQ social media groups and creating drawings about female empowerment.
Yulia Tsvetkova is the administrator of two LGBTQ groups online, Amnesty International reports. As required by Russian law, both groups are marked “18+,” making them compliant with Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law. The law prohibits teaching minors about homosexuality. Nonetheless, Tsvetkova has been fined 50,000 rubles, which is the equivalent of $780, for running the groups.
Tsvetkova is also facing criminal charges for pornography for sharing body-positive drawings on social media. The drawings were intended to empower fellow women by accurately depicting their bodies. According to an online petition, they included slogans that began with the phrase, “Living women have…” and ended with “And this is normal!”
“Thus, the author of the drawings shows that living women have body hair, fat, menstruation, wrinkles and gray hair, muscles, imperfect skin,” the petition says.
Tsvetkova was put under house arrest for the drawings on November 23. She’s now facing a possible prison sentence of up to six years.
The petition to drop all charges against Tsvetkova has been signed by over 30,000 people. Amnesty International is also fighting for her charges to be dropped and the fine to be annulled.
“Once again, a Russian human rights activist pays a heavy price—in every sense—for simply spreading the ideals of inclusiveness, tolerance and women’s empowerment,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
This isn’t Tsvetkova’s first run-in with the law. In March, she had to stop working with a youth amateur theater group after police launched an investigation into the play she was staging, “Blue and Pink.” Once again, she was suspected of gay propaganda for the play about anti-bullying and anti-discrimination.
“Yulia is the latest target of a long-running discriminatory and intensely homophobic campaign. She has suffered one blow after another, having been arbitrarily detained, interrogated and intimidated on multiple occasions. Her theatrical and creative initiatives have been stifled by law enforcement officers, and her drawings now judged as pornographic.”