Russia Blocks The Country’s Most Popular LGBTQ Site

Screenshot of BlueSystem, auto-translated into English.

Russia‘s most popular LGBTQ website, BlueSystem.ru, has been blocked throughout the country without warning according to its administrators, reports The Moscow Times.

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A court ruling banned the site, visited by approximately 100,000 people a day, although the reason for that ban has not been published on the court’s website and the owners of the site say they were given no explanation. They also say they were not able to defend themselves in court.

“The Kremlin is afraid of gays,” the website’s team wrote on social media. “On the eve of the State Duma elections, the Kremlin mobilized its repressive machine and blocked the most popular Runet gay site.”

Russia has become increasingly aggressive against their LGBTQ population. In 2013, they passed a “gay propaganda law,” which has made simply talking about homosexuality a punishable offense.

The bill states that “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” are a class of materials that must not be distributed among minors. The term is defined as materials that are “[aimed] at causing minors to form non-traditional sexual predispositions, notions of attractiveness of non-traditional sexual relationships, distorted ideas about the equal social value of traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships, or imposing information about non-traditional sexual relationships which raises interest in such relationships insofar as these acts do not amount to a criminal offence.”

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This has been enforced in such a way that gay activists often get assaulted and arrested for demonstrating for their rights.

“LGBT resources get blocked as part of a broader crackdown on freedom of expression online,” Tanya Lokshina, Russia program director for Human Rights Watch, told The Daily Beast. “The authorities are also attempting to shut down Children-404 (Deti-404), an online support group for LGBT teens.”