by Emma Burrows
MOSCOW — A Russian politician behind a controversial anti-gay propaganda law has been caught up in a social media storm in which he is pictured in a photograph of two women kissing.
Vitaly Milonov was on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg when he was photographed by two women who took a selfie of themselves kissing in front of him.
Milonov was the driving force behind a law that bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.” As a lawmaker with the ruling United Russia party, he ensured the legislation was first passed in his home city of St. Petersburg before it was adopted across the country. In the past, he has called lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people “sick” and “crazy.”
Spotting him on their flight, the two lesbian activists kissed, took a selfie and uploaded it to Instagram.
“We are very happy. He probably isn’t”
Ksenia Infinity, one of the women in the photo, posted on her Vkontakte page (Russia’s version of Facebook) that “as fate would have it, he was sitting in the row behind us.”
She went on to say, “Milonov didn’t say anything. We did a photoshoot with him in the background. When he noticed what we were doing he hid behind his tablet computer. We are very happy. He probably isn’t. But who cares!”
Infinity told CNN that she was “delighted by the positive global reaction” to the photo after it went viral on Twitter and was “liked” by more than 1,000 people on Instagram.
Milonov lashed out at the photographer, saying “I am tolerant towards all sexual minorities.”
He went on to say: “This shows that these people are not of a normal sexual orientation, but that their sexual deviance shows in all aspects of their lives. I didn’t understand what they are doing but they have a nice sense of humor. I also have a good sense of humor. I will perhaps continue this joke by closing their gay club in St. Petersburg, or ban them from having meetings in public places, that’s also a funny step.”
Milonov is currently working on legislation that would ban marriages in Russia between transgender couples. It comes after two people were able to get married in wedding dresses in St. Petersburg last year because one of them, according to passport information, is a man.
At the time, Milonov told CNN that he was working to get the marriage annulled and that the people who allowed it to take place were “psychologically sick.” He suggested that Irina Shumilova and Alyona Fursova should be committed to a “mental asylum” and that gay people who want to get married “should go to the United States.”