U2 spread gay propaganda, says Russian politician

A rightwing Russian politician has hit out at Apple’s U2 album gift as “gay propaganda”.

Alexander Starovoitov, a Russian Duma deputy and member of the LPDR party, has accused the technology giant of spamming young people with illegal content when it released the Irish rock band’s latest album, Songs of Innocence, to more than half a billion iTunes users around the world last year as a “gift”.

The album cover features U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr embracing his 19-year-old son Elvis while shirtless.

The image was captured by photographer Glen Luchford and was described by the band as a visual metaphor for the album, highlighting the theme of “how holding on to your own innocence is a lot harder than holding on to someone else’s”.

However, Starovoitov lashed out at the album cover stating it promotes sex between men.

Russian newspaper Izvestia quoted lawyer Evgeny Tonky as stating that he is ready to sue Apple for compensation for moral damages on behalf of his own son.

If convicted of the crime of distributing gay propaganda to Russian youths, the technology giant could have to pay a fine of 1m roubles (around €17,800) or stop operating in the country for up to 90 days.

The album was initially launched with a different cover, but the art featuring the shirtless men was added when the physical album went on sale.

Russia has been criticised in the past for its official attitude to homosexuality.

In 2013, it banned the promotion of “non-traditional” sexuality in a move that was seen as an attack on gay rights.

The law made providing information on homosexuality to people under the age of 18 a crime, punishable by a fine.

Gay rights activists from all around the world held a day of protests against the Russian Government two days before the start of the Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi in 2014.

In November of last year, a university in St Petersburg removed a monument to Steve Jobs and Apple after the current CEO Tim Cook announced he was gay.

Apple’s gifting of the U2 album also caused controversy among some iTunes users who complained they were getting an album downloaded to their device that they did not ask for.

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