Statement by St. Petersburg PEN club and PEN Moscow

We, members of St. Petersburg PEN Club and PEN Moscow, are certain
that it is unacceptable for the state to censor the creative process.
The set of laws adopted by the State Duma of the Russian Federation on
the “prohibition of LGBT propaganda, propaganda of paedophilia, and
demonstration of LGBT information and information encouraging gender
modifications among adolescents” is not just absurd as sexual
orientation cannot be “propagandized”, but dangerous as it creates the
framework for large-scale censorship in Russian culture and

These laws are formulated so vaguely that even the Great Russian
Encyclopaedia can be forbidden because it explains neutrally the
medical and social foundations of homosexuality. Publishers can face
problems with scientific literature, masterpieces of the ancient and
oriental poetry, as well as the texts by Oscar Wilde, Mikhail Kuzmin,
Nikolai Klyuev, Thomas Mann, Marina Tsvetaeva, James Baldwin and other
well-known writers, as well as biographies of Pyotr Tchaikovsky,
Andrey Kolmogorov, Faina Ranevskaya and more. The prohibition may
concern even Shakespeare’s sonnets and Pushkin’s stylizations (“Sweet
boy, gentle boy…”).

In the hysterical atmosphere raised by the legislators, the government
censorship is reinforced by the public one, and the most innocent
texts fall under this prohibition. For example, a stage performance
based on poems for children by Genrikh Sapgir has already been
cancelled in Novosibirsk, since an actor playing the author dresses up
as a princess from the poem “The Princess and the Ogre.” More
theatrical performances and movies could be prohibited such as “Some
like it hot” beloved by so many people, due to its crossdressing
motif. In the sick imagination of the hypocrites, this and other
innocent causes are absurdly sexualized.

There is only one path to stop this policy detrimental to the culture:
it is to repeal the laws of prohibition of the so-called “LGBT