A court in Russia fined TikTok on Tuesday for failing to delete LGBTQ content, the country’s latest crackdown on Big Tech companies.
Following a complaint from Russian regulators, the Tagansky District Court in Moscow imposed a $50,000 fine on the short-video sharing platform.
TikTok’s owner China’s ByteDance Ltd, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the case file, Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state communications regulator, stated a video posted on the platform this year that violated Russian laws prohibiting the promotion of “LGBTQ, radical feminism, and a distorted view on traditional sexual relations.”
The Russian government has increased its efforts to tighten internet and social media control over LGBTQ content.
Following complaints from Roskomnadzor, a court fined chat service WhatsApp and disappearing message platform Snapchat earlier this year for failing to store Russian users’ data on local servers.
Russian fines have also been levied against Spotify and Match Group, which owns the Tinder dating app.
A senior legislator said on Monday that in July of this year, Russian lawmakers proposed expanding the ban on promoting “non-traditional” sexual relationships to minors and adults.
The existing “gay propaganda” law in Russia, enacted in 2013, has been used to halt gay pride marches and detain gay rights activists. Russian authorities claim to be defending morality against what they see as un-Russian liberal values promoted by the West.
According to human rights activists, the law has been widely used to intimidate Russia’s LGBTQ community.
Any event or act deemed to attempt to promote homosexuality could result in a fine under the proposed changes.
Ban on LBTQ propaganda in Russia
“We propose to extend the ban on LBGTQ propaganda regardless of audience age (offline, in the media, on the internet, social media networks, and online cinemas),” said Alexander Khinshtein, head of the State Duma’s information committee, on his Telegram social media channel.
Parliamentary Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin stated that Russia would be able to prohibit the promotion of “non-traditional values” now that it had left the Council of Europe human rights watchdog after sending troops into Ukraine.
“Demands in Russia to legalize same-sex marriages are a thing of the past,” he said. “Trying to impose foreign values on our society has failed.”
Until 1993, homosexuality was a criminal offence in Russia and was classified as a mental illness in 1999.
President Vladimir Putin has allied himself with the Orthodox Church, which opposes same-sex relationships, and has incorporated its social conservatism into a Russian political and cultural revival narrative.
In addition to extending presidential term limits, a new constitution enacted in 2020 defines marriage as a traditional relationship between a man and a woman.