• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

LGBT Books Banned in Russia

ByMaria Farsoon

Feb 22, 2023
Copies of George Orwell's 1984 Penguin Classics Edition - the title of the novel is redacted and a black square is in its place

Censorship abounds as a theme in literature. George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale are classic examples. In a now chilling turn of reality, Putin has banned what the Russian government deems “LGBT Propaganda”.

Towards the end of 2022, the Russian government passed a law criminalising the creation, production, distribution, and consumption of any content, including literary works, featuring themes and narratives related to the LGBTQ+ community. The legal consequences that have been implemented include fines, imprisonment and even the deportation of foreigners if suspected of participating.

Katerina Silvanova and Elena Malisova’s bestselling novel Summer in a Young Pioneer’s Tie, has been described as the Russian equivalent of Call Me by Your Name: they are both nostalgic, touching stories of love between two men. Following the ban, copies of both the novel and novels like it have been removed from bookshops on the grounds of bringing ‘Western values’ into the country, against Russia’s political attempt to maintain ‘traditional’ modes of sexuality. Literary censorship is a political step not only necessitated by a government’s hostility towards particular demographics, but also has the potential to necessitate collective shame towards those who resonate with groups such as the LGBTQ+ community.

Censoring literature not only prohibits a consumer’s entertainment but also aims to remove the comfort a reader feels when reading works by a progressive and inclusive community. It maintains the strict ideologies of political powers, weakening and restricting the mass-production of content that targets growing minority audiences. Governments who censor literature see no room for the resonance amongst the minorities within them because diverse inclusivity is not perceived as the ideal. Instead, the ideal seems to be a uniformed structure of ideology which distances itself from the notions of a liberally modern Western society as a mode of concentrated and exclusively Russian control.

If the beauty magazines in The Handmaid’s Tale symbolise the silent revolutionary feminism that takes place in the novel, then reclaiming LGBTQ+ themed media in Russia could represent a form of revolt against its government. Literary works which fit into the LGBTQ+ genre pose a threat to an insecure, elitist political sphere because of the way that this mode of content is so widely and universally consumed by younger generations. Big Brother’s power may be strong, but the power of literature in the hands of the masses can be better and stronger.

Image Credit: George Orwell 1984 #1984 #orwell #georgeorwell #censored #censorship #serranegra #saopaulo #book #livro” by markhillary is licensed under CC BY 2.0.