TikTok Couple Arrested Under Anti-LGBT+ Legislation

A gay couple in Russia who are popular on TikTok have been arrested and charged with violating the country’s strict anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

Gela Gogishvili, a 23-year-old Russian, and his Chinese boyfriend Haoyang Xu, who is 21, were arrested by police in the city of Kazan on Wednesday.

 They were charged under a series of Russian laws that include a ban on the positive portrayal of LGBTQ+ persons in media and the dissemination of “gay propaganda” to minors.

Gogishvili was released, but Haoyang remains in a Russian jail facing the threat of immediate deportation. 

The couple has a popular TikTok channel with over 370,000 followers, where they post short videos about their life together as a gay couple.

 They met two years ago on a dating app and have endured abuse from “homophobes” during that period, but nothing compared to what happened next. 

They said their lives were thrown into chaos when they learned they were under investigation for promoting their life as a gay couple on social media. 

Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law expanding a 2013 ban against spreading “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors to also include adults. 

The new law took effect on December 5, 2022, and made it illegal to promote or “praise” LGBTQ+ relationships, publicly express non-heterosexual orientations, or suggest that they are “normal.” 

The new law also banned all advertising, media, and online resource books, films, and theater productions that affirm the LGBTQ+ community or individuals.

If convicted, Gogishvili and Xu will be subject to administrative fines while Xu could be immediately deported. They are expected to appear in court later today.

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