Russia: Putin's Kremlin targets LGBT in new crackdown
By Will Vernon
BBC News, St Petersburg
"I'm the only monster drag queen in Russia," Danya proudly tells me as he applies ghostly-white make-up in front of a mirror. We're sitting in his kitchen, a rainbow flag adorning the wall.
Danya's act is horror-themed - think Halloween meets drag. The 22-year-old regularly performed at a queer club night in St Petersburg called Gender Blender. But the project has now cancelled its shows after a new anti-LGBT law was passed by the Russian Parliament in December. Danya's work has all but dried up.
"According to the law, it's forbidden to do what we're doing," Danya says. "We're a lot more anxious now. The risks are much higher."
The new law bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" amongst all age groups. Anyone caught committing this "offence" could be fined up to 400,000 roubles ($5,840; 4,730), with much higher fines for organisations or journalists.
Since the law was passed, Danya has decided to leave Russia and move to France. He says that living in a country where it's illegal to "just be yourself" makes him feel afraid. "My hands are tied. I just don't have a choice anymore. Either I leave the country, or stay here and wait for it to get even worse. What's happening now - it's very frightening."
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