When Russian President Vladimir Putin banned gay "propaganda" in June last year, Russia's LGBT community went from being a stigmatised fringe group to full-blown enemies of the state. Homophobia becoming legislation means it’s now not only accepted in Russia but actively encouraged, which has led to a depressing rise in homophobic attacks and murders.
The main aim of the law, which essentially bans any public display of homosexuality, is to prevent minors from getting the impression that being gay is normal. Which means that, if you’re young and gay in Putin’s Russia, you’re ostracised and cut off from any kind of legal support network.
We travelled to Russia ahead of February's Sochi Winter Olympics to investigate the effects of the country's state-sanctioned homophobia. There, we met everyone from young members of Moscow's LGBT community and core gay rights activists, to one of Putin's spin doctors and the lawmaker behind the repressive anti-gay propaganda law.
Young and Gay in Putin's Russia will air in full on VICE.com next week.