A gay couple who publish videos about their lives on YouTube from Russia has been arrested by the Russian authorities. Their videos are said to be in violation of anti-gay legislation and are labeled as ‘gay propaganda’.
Youtubers Haoyang Xu and Gela Gogishvili are originally from China and Georgia respectively. The two boys are a couple and live in Russia. Regularly post videos on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, which are about their own lives.
In their latest video, published on April 1, Xu and Gogishvili discuss the anti-gay legislation that Russia has introduced. All LGBTQ-related topics are banned in public and are classed as “gay propaganda.”
In their video, Xu and Gogishvili questioned the impact of anti-gay laws on queer people in Russia. In the text below the video, they wrote: “Due to harassment and death threats, we have to go into hiding for a while. We fear for our lives, we are afraid to say or write anything. We have contacted lawyers and major human rights organizations.”
The couple were arrested by police on April 5 and charged under the law against “gay propaganda”. They were deprived of their right to a lawyer and required to sign a number of documents. Since the police had not taken their phones, Xu and Gogishvili were able to report that they had been arrested.
It wasn’t until some of their supporters called the police station that they were shown a lawyer. Gogishvili has since been released, but Xi is still in custody. Probably because he couldn’t hand over a passport at a regular ID check. According to the couple’s lawyer, Adel Khaydarshin, they can count on a fine of 50,000 rubles (more than 567 euros) or imprisonment.
Haoyang Xu and Gela Gogishvili have been living together in the Russian city of Kazan since 2021. They share a TikTok account that has 377,000 followers and a YouTube channel with over 65,000 subscribers. According to Vladimir Komov, senior partner of the LGBTQ organization DELO, the police have been monitoring the couple’s activities since March.