Controversy Erupts Over Screening of Gay Teen Documentary in Russia

Children 404 - H 2014

Children 404 - H 2014

Local activists claim that Russia's controversial law against "gay propaganda" was violated

A controversy has stirred up over the screening of a documentary about gay teens at the Pacific Meridians festival in Vladivostok last month as activists are pointing out to violations of a much disputed law "against gay propaganda among minors."

A local television station, People's Patriotic Channel, ran an investigation which it said showed that despite the 18+ rating of the documentary Deti 404 (Children 404), focused on the issue of gay teens, tickets to the screening were sold without a proper ID check.

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Directed by Askold Kurov and Pavel Loparev, the film has been in the middle of controversy before because of the "gay propaganda" law enacted last year, which according to some observers serves to crack down on the Russian gay community rather than protect minors.

Last April, a screening of the film in St Petersburg was disrupted by Orthodox Christian activists and police.

Under the "gay propaganda" law, only people over 18 can be allowed to a screening containing gay material. But reporters from People's Patriotic Channel sent an underage girl to buy a ticket and later claimed that she had been let in without a proper ID check.

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The festival's organizers said they had nothing to do with that and that the theater is to blame for the incident, stressing that the inclusion of the film into one of the festival's sections was important as it deals with a major social issue.

"I think this film is very useful because we are striving for a tolerant society in which people who are different can also exist," Natalia Timofeyeva, programming director, was quoted as saying by the local news agency PrimaMedia.

Some other films have been also attacked under the "gay propaganda" law, including Blue is the Warmest Color.