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A Russian university threatened a student with expulsion because he had a pink phone case

Josh Milton September 20, 2019
People wave rainbow flags during a pride rally in Saint Petersburg, on Agust 12, 2017 as police look on.

People wave rainbow flags during a pride rally in Saint Petersburg, on Agust 12, 2017 as police look on. (OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty)

A student was reportedly nearly expelled from a university in Russia because he was part of a pro-LGBT+ social media group and had a pink phone case.

Ural State University of Economics in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, monitors students’ sexual orientations by combing through their social media profiles.

College administrators asked an unnamed student to come to the campus to collect some documents before informing him of the potential expulsion, according to local media.

Russian university allegedly monitors its students sexual orientation. 

“Vice-president Krasnov Roman Valerievich called him and demanded to pick up documents from the university with the wording: ‘We tracked your social networks, here are the printouts – you are gay,'” a friend of the student told regional paper eanews.ru.

The student anonymously told the website: “The director of my institute called me and said that an unpleasant situation had occurred and I needed to talk.

“At the meeting, he explained that a group for monitoring social networks of students was created and they found that I was subscribed to a group of the LGBT+ community.

“Then the vice-rector for educational work Roman Krasnov called me to him, he said that I ‘defamed the name of the institute’, that I have a pink phone and that having a girlfriend, in his opinion, is not an excuse and does not prove that I am not gay.”

Ural State University of Economics in Yekaterinburg, the fourth-largest city in Russia. (WikiMedia Commons/Владислав Фальшивомонетчик)

Roman Krasnov, the school’s vice president for disciplinary work, confirmed that USUE has a group that monitors its students’ social media pages.

“We’re a state university, so we look at our students’ moral character,” he said, according to eanews.ru.

“Why shouldn’t our youth policy and social departments be looking at what our students do outside class time?” he added.

But the VP later told TASS, a news agency in Russia, that he “never planned” to expel the student. Moreover, the media reports had been “incorrect”.

The university also said that complaints from fellow students had prompted the monitoring group to check the student’s social media presence.

“The USUE student did have a link to the LGBT community on his personal page, which counts as public propaganda,” its press service said.

The ‘Gay Prohibition’ in Russia.

The university’s system of monitoring students’ sexualities comes years into a Russia where queer citizens are severely restricted and surveilled.

St Petersburg Pride in Russia
LGBT campaigners in Russia (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia banned the prohibition of homosexuality in 2013, codifying into law decades of discrimination, persecution and worse that queer people have faced.

Lawmakers at the State Duma, the lower hour of Parliament, voted 388-1 for the bill that silenced the nation.

Furthermore, the legislation has acted as a central plank of president Vladimir Putin’s nationalist campaign across the country. One of centralising Christian values as the government draws closer to the Russian Orthodox Church.

More: anti lgbt, Anti-LGBT education protests, Russia, University

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