Police have found 17 children’s drawings confiscated from a school art exhibition in Yekaterinburg, Russia, don’t breach national homosexual propaganda laws.
The artworks came to the attention of authorities after parents complained that they depicted gay and lesbian couples, reports The Moscow Times.
The art competition was held in recognition of International Day of Tolerance.
Local Russian-language news website URA.RU reported on the investigation and shared a photo of some of the children’s work, claiming the drawing which shows the silhouettes of a man and woman, two men, and two women were depicting a straight, gay, and lesbian relationship.
В Екатеринбурге прокуратура изъяла детские рисунки со школьного конкурса «Толерантный мир». Угадайте, что им не понравилось?
— RTVI (@RTVi) 29 November 2018
“Around 10 other posters hang next to this picture showing a rainbow (a symbol of the sexual minority movement), planets and people of different nationalities,” the outlet wrote, according to The Moscow Times.
“Another work contains the motto ‘We’re for peace! We’re for tolerance!’”
“The pictures reflect human values: friendship, respect, mutual understanding and acceptance of other people’s values and attitudes,” a spokesperson for the Mayor of Yekaterinburg told URA.RU.
“[It is] a symbol of purity, childhood and friendship, embodying the unity of different nationalities,” the spokesperson said in reference to the rainbows.
Russia provoked international outrage when its government introduced its ‘gay propaganda’ law in June 2013, which made it illegal to promote homosexuality to minors. Local violators of the law face heavy fines, while foreign visitors could be jailed or deported if found guilty.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2017 that the law violates the “right to freedom of expression” as set out in the European Convention of Human Rights and is discriminatory, but it still remains in place.
Earlier this month Human Rights Watch released the report No Support: Russia’s “Gay Propaganda” Laws Imperil LGBT Youth which condemns the legislation, highlighting the negative effect it has on the Russian LGBTI population.
The report features interviews with a number of LGBTI youth and mental health professionals about what it’s like living under the legislation, in particular highlighting how difficult it has become for LGBTI youth to access accurate information and resources.
“Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law is harming youth by cutting them off from vital information,” said senior children’s rights counsel at Human Rights Watch, Michael Garcia Bochenek.
“And amid the intense social hostility surrounding LGBT people in Russia, the law stops mental health providers from counseling children who have questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“The ‘gay propaganda’ law risks inflicting long-term harm on generations of Russian youth by encouraging discrimination and curtailing access to support services,” Bochenek continued.
“This law doesn’t protect anyone, but it does cut off kids from the services they need to thrive, and in some cases even survive.”
The complete 92-page report can be found here.