Gay emojis might violate the Russia-wide  “gay propaganda” ban, according to Russian media watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

The emojis in question, introduced as part of Apple’s iOS 8.3 update in April, include same-sex parents and same-sex couples kissing.

Deputy Head of Roskomnadzor, Maxim Ksenzov Mikhail Marchenko, said in a statement that emojis depicting “non-traditional sexual orientation” form part of “the spread on social media of untraditional sexual relations among minors”. According to Mr Marchenko, this phenomenon “denies family values” and “forms disrespect for parents and other family members”.

The statement warns that the emojis may conflict with the federal law “on the protection of children from information harmful to their health and development”.                                                                                                         

The media watchdog has requested Young Guard (the youth wing of President Putin’s United Russia party), to investigate the emojis used on social media sites. A representative of Young Guard stated that the group had yet to receive an official request from Roskomnadzor, but would look into the matter.

The targeting of emojis depicting same-sex couples is the latest development in Russia’s crackdown on what the government terms “gay propaganda”. In 2013, President Putin signed a law that introduced fines for citizens who spread information aimed at minors which may cause a “distorted understanding” that gay and heterosexual relations are “socially equivalent”.

In January this year, founder of LGBT charity Deti-404 Yelena Klimova was fined by a court for 50,000 roubles on the charge that her site spread “unhealthy” LGBT propaganda aimed at minors.

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