It’s now illegal in Russia to use the Internet to distribute an image of President Vladimir Putin as a gay clown.

The Washington Post reports:

Russia has banned a picture depicting President Vladimir Putin as a potentially gay clown.

Recent anti-Putin protesters in Spain hold “gay clown” images of the Russian president. (Photo courtesy of The Telegraph)

Russian news outlets are having trouble reporting exactly which image of the Internet’s many Putin-gay-clown memes is now illegal to share. Because, you know, it’s been banned.

But the picture was described last week on the Russian government’s list of things that constitute “extremism.”

Item 4071: a picture of a Putin-like person “with eyes and lips made up,” captioned with an implicit anti-gay slur, implying “the supposed nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation.”

The Moscow Times thinks it probably looks like [the images above].

That poster became popular in 2013, after Russia passed a law banning propagandizing to children about “nontraditional sexual relations,” and gay rights protesters were beaten and arrested.

But gay Putin memes have proliferated as Russia has cracked down on both sexual liberties and online speech in recent years.

Thus, another news site thinks the banned image is this one:

Mocking image portrays Russian leaders as a gay couple — President Vladimir Putin on the left, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on the right. (Photo courtesy of The Washington Post)


Photoshopping makeup on to images of Putin has been common since Russia passed a law banning gay ‘propaganda’ in 2013. Photo: PYMCA/Rex Shutterstock

A quick search of the Russian social media site shows some users are sharing similar images of Putin despite the ban. On Twitter, users were similarly amused.

The image began to circulate online and appeared on posters at public demonstrations after Russia passed a law banning propagandizing to children about “nontraditional sexual relations” in 2013.



(The other man in that picture is Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, by the way. He’s more commonly associated with sleeping memes than sexuality issues, though in 2015, he signed an order banning transgender people from driving.)

For more information, read the full Washington Post article, “It’s now illegal in Russia to share an image of Putin as a gay clown.”