Netflix is being investigated by Russia over LGBT content

Netflix is under investigation by Russian officials after the public commissioner for protecting families accused the company of violating a “gay propaganda” law. According to reports, the commissioner claimed that some Netflix content with LGBTQIA+ themes was rated suitable for those aged 16 and older. However, under the laws in Russia the distribution of “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations” among under 18s is illegal.

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The Interior Ministry is said to be looking into the complaint. If Netflix is deemed to have broken the law, it faces a fine of up to a million rubles ($13,390). The bigger threat doe Netflix is that they can also be temporarily suspended in the country if found to have breaches these laws.

Netflix has denied these claims, saying that they didn’t find any LGBT content that was rated 16+ during a review earlier in November in their own investigation. Officials may ban streaming services from having shows and movies that depict “non-traditional sexual relationships and sexual deviations” in their libraries, including the likes of Fifty Shades of Gray and Billions, according to another newspaper report.

The European Court of Human Rights determined in 2017 that the “propaganda” law, which was enacted in 2013, discriminates against LGBTQIA+ people and violates European treaty rules and the right to freedom of expression. Of course, Vladimir Putin and the Russian government don’t care what the European Commission of the Court of Human Rights have to say.

Meanwhile, Russia is taking aim at foreign tech companies at a broader level. This week, it said the likes of Apple, Facebook parent Meta, Google, TikTok, Telegram and Twitter would need to set up official presences in the country by the end of the year, if they haven’t already done so. The Netflix case could be a landmark ruling in the country and affect the other Western tech companies operating in the country.