The advertising firm Havas Worldwide has been fined $1,700 for producing a poster which featured a kiss between Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and Kazakh composer Kurmangazy Sagyrbayuly. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that on August 25th, “about 20 activists filed a lawsuit…against the advertising agency that created it, saying it ‘insulted both Kazakhs and Russians,'” and a descendant of Kurmangazy also threatened to sue.
The ad, which is posted on their Facebook page, and is the featured image for this article, was meant to promote Studio 69, a gay club located on an intersection of two streets named for the men. The image itself parodies a real picture of former Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev kissing East German leader Erich Honecker as a fraternal greeting in East Berlin in 1979.
That picture was then immortalized in 1990 on the Berlin Wall in the form of a mural, which bears the legend, “Господи! Помоги мне выжить среди этой смертной любви,” or, “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love.”
The advertising firm eventually made a statement on their Facebook page: “Acknowledging the invaluable cultural contribution of the great Russian poet and the great Kazakh composer, we officially announce that this poster will not be printed, posted or published in paid media.” It is still available to view online.
Kazakhstan decriminalized homosexuality in 1998 (and at this point I’d like to remind everyone that the US didn’t manage to do that nationwide until the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision) but anti-gay sentiment is still prevalent. Dauren Babamuratov, a leader of the nationalist “Bolashak” party, is attempting to gain support for a law against “gay propaganda,” similar to the situation in Russia.
“We have stooped so low that LGBTs no longer hide their orientation,” Babamuratov said. He added that LGBT people could be identified by “degeneratism” within their DNA. His party’s movement to enact anti-gay laws has gained some support, including the Secretary of the People’s Communist Party.
This is a video from January created by Human Rights Watch, discussing the systemic discrimination that gay and bisexual men face within Kazakhstan today.