A Russian Duma deputy says that the artwork for U2's 'Songs Of Innocence' is tantamount to "gay propaganda".
Alexander Starovoitov, a deputy representing the right-wing LDPR party in the Russian Duma (parliament), believes that Apple is guilty of spamming youths with illegal content when it gave away U2’s recent album Songs of Innocence for free back in September 2014 to all of iTunes’ 500 million worldwide users.
In a report by The Guardian, Starovoitov believes that the album’s artwork, which features the group’s drummer Larry Mullen Jr embracing his son Elvis while shirtless, promotes sexual relations between men.
U2 are accused of spreading "gay propaganda" by a Russian politician
This is a confusing standpoint, not least because the artwork in question was only available with the conventional physical release of the album a few months after the free download, which featured a blank sleeve.
Nevetheless, many in Russia agree with Starovoitov, including the country’s daily newspaper Izvestia, known for pro-government reporting, which quotes lawyer Evgeny Tonky as saying that he’s prepared to sue Apple for compensation for moral damages on behalf of his own son.
Apple’s “gift” to iTunes users, which happened at the same time as its rollout for the iPhone 6, caused a significant backlash at the time because it was automatically downloaded to users’ accounts without their prior permission.
“I had this beautiful idea and we kind of got carried away with ourselves,” said Bono a month later, in response to the criticism. “Artists are prone to that kind of thing.”
If Apple is found guilty of the offence, the company could be forced to cease operating in the country for up to 90 days, or face a fine of up 1 million roubles (roughly £13,000).
Notoriously, Russia has attracted international criticism for its stance on LGBT rights. Apple already suspects that it has been on the receiving end of the country’s attitudes: last November, soon after the company’s CEO Tim Cook revealed that he is gay, a university in St. Petersburg removed an iPhone-shaped sculpture dedicated to Steve Jobs from its grounds.