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Apple's 'Same Sex Emojis' Infuriate Russia

Huffington Post
I'm sure, in many ways, Russia is a lovely place, full of wonder and merriment. Not if you're gay. What always astonishes me about the seemingly ever-widening intolerance of LGBTs in Russia is just how far it reaches. In some places LGBTs are ridiculed, in others they are persecuted but in Russia it can sometimes feel like the most hard-line homophobes are actively looking for anything, be it Russian or otherwise, that even vaguely alludes to homosexuality and then making a point of getting angry about it. This story certainly supports that theory.

You see, since 2013, there has been a law in Russia which outlaws any 'promotion' of homosexuality to minors, because that is definitely a real thing that really happens. Since iOS 6, same-sex couple emojis have been available on Apple products, and with the release of iOS 8, families with same-sex parents were also added. The police department in Kirov have raised issue with these emojis, warranting a suit against Apple which if lost would see them fined 1 million rubles, or around $15,000 dollars. Something tells me they won't struggle to pay that off.

The more worrying thing is, fine or no fine, they will have to create a new, Russian-only version of iOS which doesn't feature any same-sex material of any kind. The only other option is an outright ban of Apple products across the country. That option has been put on the table before, the ever-lovable Vitaly Milonov (remember him?) wanted it done because their current CEO, Tim Cook, is openly gay. That never really made it past the suggestion page, but there have been numerous cases of Apple being fined or put under pressure to alter policy in Russia for similar reasons.

Similarly, when the U2 album Songs of Innocence was released for free, as well as preloaded onto phones with the most recent iOS update of the time, there were complaints that the lyrics in some of the songs were also, in fact, gay propaganda. That complaint never reached the courtroom, which is a shame, since I'm sure a lot of Russian citizens would rather be spared the nightmarish notion of U2 ever visiting their country. I certainly would. For all of our sakes, I hope Apple continue to stand their ground on issues like this. A large contingent of the Russian government have a vested interesting in keeping Western corporations sweet and these kinds of ideological disparities might prompt them to rescind their homophobic laws. It's a bit of a stretch, but we can hope.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Apple's 'Same Sex Emojis' Infuriate Russia Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 Rating: 5

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