November 14, 2018
Under recent propaganda law, Russian publishers are erasing queer stories from forthcoming titles
by Alex Primiani
A Russian publisher is deleting queer stories from children’s books, reports Daria Litvinova for Reuters via the Huffington Post.
The most recent book attacked by this particularly troubling censorship is the internationally bestselling anthology Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls which was published independently by the two authors behind the book in 2016. According to Litvinova, Moscow-based feminist blogger Liza Lazerson was one of the first readers to notice that one story by Coy Mathis, an eleven year old transgender girl from the U.S., was not included in the Russian edition of the book. In the place of her story was a blank page, meant to let readers “add their own” story.
In an attempt to suppress queer stories in a country that’s for years become increasingly hostile to the community, Russian publishers like Rosman and Bombora (the publisher of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls) are taking advantage of a 2013 law that bans LGBTQ+ stories of any kind, labeling them as “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations.” Neither publisher commented on their actions.
Publishers do have options in how to suppress these stories, whether it be full-blown censorship or barriers to access. Litvinova writes, “Under the current laws, publishers can either remove LGBT+ content from books aimed at children and teenagers, or mark them as appropriate for audiences over 18. They are also obliged to seal all ’18+ books’ in plastic wrap.”
The suppression of marginalized voices by a government is de facto fascism, and Russia is proving itself time and time again to be a one of the most oppressive administrations in control today.
Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.