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Last month, people across the United States celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage; yesterday, as Russians celebrated the annual Day of Family, Love, and Fidelity, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party unveiled a “‘heterosexual flag’ to honor traditional family values,” as the Moscow Times reported. The flag, which shows a man and a woman holding hands with three children, was created specifically to counter the recent US Supreme Court ruling and features the hashtag #НастоящаяСемья (or “#RealFamily”).
“This is our response to same-sex marriage, to this mockery of the concept of the family,” Andrei Lisovenko, deputy head of the United Russia branch in Moscow told local newspaper Izvestia. “We have to warn against gay-fever at home and support traditional values in our country.” Although the Russian government decriminalized same-sex sexual activity in 1993, the Family Code of the Russian Federation defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Whereas many streets in the US were recently lined with Gilbert Baker’s iconic Rainbow Flag, yesterday’s celebrations at Moscow’s Sokolniki Park were colored red, white, and blue — the varied hues of the new design— with many attendees waving the flags and posing with them for photographs shared on social media. (It’s unclear as of press time whether or not they are following the Russian government’s new “safe selfie” guidelines.) As news of the banner spread, however, a Russian parody Twitter account noticed that it looks almost exactly like the symbol of French anti-gay marriage movement La Manif Pour Tous. It turns out that Russia’s ruling political party is not only intolerant of marriage equality, it’s also incapable of doing its own vexillological work and prone to plagiarism.
As tends to happen with campaigns promoting controversial views, many people are hijacking #НастоящаяСемья and using it counter to its intended purpose. Searches on social media do turn up results that would please Putin and his team, but images of same-sex couples and their families are steadily cropping up as well in defiance. Meanwhile, others are giving the design a rainbow makeover, and, as the Washington Post reports, users on the Russian social network VK are flooding the hashtag with photographs of naked men.