Activist faces jail for female body drawings

Yulia Tsvetkova
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Yulia Tsvetkova, an artist and stage director from Komsomolsk-on-Amur (Russian Far East), was arbitrarily detained on 20 November 2019 and put under house arrest two days later after being charged with “production and dissemination of pornographic materials” (Point B, Part 3, Article 242 of the Russian Criminal Code). The basis for these absurd charges were her drawings of the female body, including body-positive pictures of female reproductive organs, which she posted on social media as part of her women’s empowerment campaign. On the day of her detention, searches were carried out in her apartment and in the children's educational club where she worked previously. The police seized her electronic devices, documents, and brochures on gender issues. Yulia Tsvetkova recalled that during the search the police officers stated that she was a “lesbian, sex trainer and propagandist leader”.

On 11 December 2019, she was found guilty of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors”, an administrative offence under Article 6.21 of the Code of Administrative Offences, and fined 50,000 rubles (US$ 780) for being the administrator of two LGBTI-themed online communities on the popular Russian social media platform, VKontakte. Both online communities were marked “18+”, as required by Russian law, making the fine imposed on her unfounded even under the homophobic Russian “gay propaganda” legislation (this “offence” only arises if the “propaganda” material is targeted at persons under 18 years of age).

On 17 January 2020, Yulia Tsvetkova informed the media that a new proceeding had been opened against her, under the same article of the Code of Administrative Offences, this time for posting on social media her drawing “Family is where love is. Support LGBT+ families”, depicting two same-sex couples with children. She had published the drawing in support of a same-sex couple who had had to flee Russia with their adopted children because the authorities had threatened to take their children away from them. On 10 July she was found guilty and fined 75 000 rubles (US$ 1050).

On 7 July a third administrative case was opened against her under Article 6.21 of the Code of Administrative Offences.

Yulia Tsvetkova has been the target of an overtly homophobic campaign since March 2019, when she had to leave her work with the amateur youth theatre company Merak, after the police launched an investigation into alleged “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors”, on account of her anti-bullying and anti-discrimination play “Blue and Pink”. Also, the theatrical group she had founded in 2018 was forced to cease its activities.

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