The Russian government could be on its way to banning "gay emojis" from social media should an investigation find the emoticons violate the country's rules on what it deems "gay propaganda," Russian newspaper Izvestia reported, via Newsweek Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin pushed for the controversial law that passed in 2013, which bans spreading the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" among minors.
Roskomnadzor, a Russian media watchdog group, confirmed it had sent a letter to Putin's Youth Guard to request its help in investigating the use of same-sex couple emojis that show the cartoon-like characters kissing or holding hands, reported Newsweek Europe Thursday. The Youth Guard said to Russian media it had not yet received a letter but would be willing to look into the use of the popular emoticons available in application stores. The LGBT-friendly options were introduced in an update by Apple in April, reported Yahoo! News.
The original call for an investigation into emojis and social media came from Maxim Ksenzov Mikhael Marchenko, a far-right Russian senator and member of Roskomnadzor, who said he believes the images promote homosexual symbols. He said in a statement that the emoticons are a part of "the spread on social media of untraditional sexual relations among minors" that is against family values and "‘forms disrespect for parents and other family members," according to Metro. If the emojis are found to be in violation of Russian rules he said they would be barred for the "protection of children from information harmful to their health and development," under the federal law.
— Yahoo Canada News (@YahooCanadaNews) July 30, 2015
Under the law, individuals can be fined between 4000-5000 rubles, or about $67-$83. Officials can see much heftier fines, ranging from 40,000-50,000 rubles, or about $670-$830. Businesses can face large fines and temporary closure under the law, while foreigners can be arrested and detained for 15 days, while facing fines up to about $83. The founder of a Russian LGBT website was recently fined 50,000 rubles for violating gay "propaganda" laws.
This is not the first time Putin has had a run-in with emojis. Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop used an angry red-faced emoji to describe the Russian president during an interview in February.