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Russia investigates Netflix after complaint for LGBT content

MOSCOW, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Russia is investigating Netflix after its public commissioner for the protection of families accused the streaming company of violating Russian law on “gay propaganda”, the Vedomosti newspaper reported.

The commissioner, Olga Baranets, complained to the Interior Ministry that Netflix violated a 2013 law that prohibits the dissemination of “propaganda about non-traditional sexual relations” among Russians under 18 years of age by broadcasting LGBT-themed series with a label of +16.

His appeal is being considered by the Moscow Department of the Interior Ministry, Vedomosti said, citing a source in a report published late Wednesday.

Netflix declined to comment on the situation. The American company could face a fine of up to 1 million rubles ($ 13,400) or a temporary suspension of its service if it is found to have violated the law, Vedomosti said.

Russian law has been condemned by rights groups. In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia’s gay propaganda law violates European treaty rules, the right to freedom of expression, and discriminates against LGBT people, a ruling that Moscow called unfair.

The newspaper quoted a source close to Netflix as saying that the company at the beginning of the month verified its offering of series and films about the lives of members of the LGBT community and did not find any with a label of +16.

Moscow is cracking down on foreign tech companies in particular, what critics see as an attempt by the Russian authorities to exert tighter control over the internet.

Vedomosti reported this month that Russian authorities are discussing changes in the way streaming services are regulated.

(1 dollar = 74.6250 rubles)

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)

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