Everything You Need to Know About the TikTok Couple Detained In Russia
By Christine Siamanta Kinori
Recently, Russian police arrested famous LGBTQ + content creators, Gela Gogishvili and his boyfriend Haoyang Xu. Haoyang Xu is Chinese but relocated to Russia to study. The two met on a dating app two years ago and started a YouTube page sharing their day-to-day life as an LGBTQ+ couple in Russia. Through their content, the couple has managed to get 740,000 followers on TikTok and 64,900 subscribers on YouTube.
Sadly, the police laid out a trap for them and asked to see Xu’s passport and registration documents. The couple tried to show the authorities the relevant documents but they were escorted to the police station. The authorities insisted on going to the station to make sure the documents were not fake. The couple started feeling like the stop was a trap but it was too late- the ball had already started rolling.
At the police station, they were held for 2 hours before their fans intervened and insisted the couple be allowed to see their lawyers. Unfortunately, even their lawyers took their sweet time before getting to the couple. The police accused the couple of LGBTQ+ propaganda as stated in their Article 6.21. The police also threatened to deport Haoyang Xu.
After 5 hours, Gogishvili was released but Xu was detained and his phone confiscated. The police said that they found out that Xu uploaded 19 videos in which he and Gogishvili “touch each other on different parts of the body, including the genitals. They also accused Xu of “dissemination among minors the desire to change sex.”
Later in Court, Xu was found guilty of spreading positive depictions of homosexuality and queer relationships.
His lawyer’s attempted to point out that Xu is unable to control the viewers of his content or know their age to no avail. The lawyer also pointed out that the videos didn’t violate the law but in the end, Xu was placed in a detention centre for seven days as he awaits deportation to China.
According to Newsweek , a local tipped off the police to the videos of the couple kissing, cuddling and spending their time together doing their daily chores. There is nothing erotic in th couple’s content but that was all it took for the police to start hunting them down. Apparently, the police initiated their search for the couple in March. They visited pharmacies around the city trying to find where Gogishvili worked or lived.
A Moscow-based LGBTQ+ group, DELO LGBT+, spoke about the incident. A senior partner of the organization, Vladimir Komov, questioned what exactly constitutes “ gay propaganda” and if the Russian police are qualified to make that distinction. He shared his disappointment with how the police treated the couple like dangerous criminals.
Last December, Russian President Vladimir Putin expanded the country’s law on LGBTQ+ “propaganda.” He had initially passed the law in 2013 but the new additional regulation prohibits any public expression of LGBTQ+ life in Russia. The law has only led to discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in Russia.
Sadly, this couple is just another victim of these distrubing laws. The LGBTQ+ community in Russia is slowly but surely having their rights and voice taken away. The more they speak up, the more the government comes for them. The laws are being used to oppress rather than free them and they continue to suffer harassment, hostility and detention.
It is hard to fight the law when the people in charge are homophobic. However, there is still hope that someday, these oppressive laws across the world will be changed. Everyone deserves the right to be with someone they love.
About the Author:
Christine Siamanta Kinori grew up in a little village in Kenya known as Loitoktok near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. All she wanted to do when she grew up was to explore the world. Her curiosity led her to join Nairobi University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She later got a job with an amazing travel magazine Nomad Africa which gave her the opportunity to explore Africa. She also writes for numerous travel websites about Africa and tries to create a new narrative in the media about our aesthetic continent.
Christine claims to have somewhat unhealthy addiction to TV and reading, as it is a fun way to keep herself occupied during the long journeys for her travel writing. She is also a believer of letting people be their beautiful selves. To her, love is love and it is the greatest gift we have as humans.