A Russian court has banned a social media movement called Male State as “extremist” for inciting hatred of women and gays.
Last week YouTube and the Telegram messaging service blocked access to channels run by Male State founder Vladislav Pozdnyakov.
The group, born in 2016, has attracted thousands of followers. They initially organized themselves on Vkontakte (VK), a Russian equivalent of Facebook.
Pozdnyakov is rumored to be overseas now.
The court in Nizhny Novgorod, a city on the Volga River about 440 km (273 miles) east of Moscow, accepted the prosecutor’s evidence that the male state had persecuted women and gays online.
One example was the goal of the group of a sushi restaurant chain called Tanuki. The group slandered the chain for its advertisement featuring a black man and the colors of the LGBT rainbow.
In court, the group’s lawyer, Dzambolat Gabarayev, argued that the anti-Tanuki campaign was not racist, but that it was legitimate to condemn the rainbow colors of sushi in the ad because, he said, it was illegal in Russia to spread pro LGBT messages seen by young people.
A 2013 law in Russia bans the dissemination of “gay propaganda” targeting young people, including LGBT symbols and information on gay lifestyles. There was widespread condemnation of that law.
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The court heard evidence from a Russian anti-extremism center, which described the ideology of the male state as a push to re-establish a patriarchal society by subordinating the position of women, according to the BBC Russian.
Sexism and homophobia are widespread in Russia, but those who express such prejudices are not often prosecuted.
In December 2018, Pozdnyakov was sentenced to two years in prison for extremism after a prosecutor accused his group of “activities aimed at denigrating women”. Pozdnyakov admitted the guilt at the time, but soon after the sentencing it emerged that he had left Russia.
Responding to the condemnation of Male State’s prosecutor for persecuting women, Gabarayev claimed that “they were women who denigrated men.”
In 2018, the group launched a shame campaign for Russian women who mingled with foreign fans during the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
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