A new commercial warns that a failure to vote in the upcoming elections could result in every Russian man’s worst nightmare: He might wake up with a gay man in his bed.
In the three-minute long video, a rotund gentleman mocks his wife for wanting to cast a ballot in the 2018 presidential electionswhich will commence on March 18. Incumbent President Vladimir Putin will face off against challengers like Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin and Liberal Democratic Party nominee Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
A dream sequence alerts him to the terror of his complacency: The man wakes up on the day of the election with a homosexual at his kitchen table. The gay character is flamboyantly attired with an effeminate pink shirt and a gold chain; he’s even using a rainbow nail file.
His presence is the result of new regulations in which Russian couples are assigned a “gay homestay” to live with them, which the man could have avoided by turning out to the ballot box.
“The law is the law,” claims the man’s new housemate before chomping down on a banana.
The nightmare reaches a fever pitch when the man rolls over in bed to find that his gay roommate has taken the place of his wife. When he pulls down the covers, the “homestay” tries to pull him in for a Planes, Trains, and Automobiles-style cuddle.
Those aren’t the only horrors which await Russian voters if they stay home next month.
The video warns citizens could be involuntarily enlisted into the military, and they might have to serve with a black person. Other components of the hypothesized dystopia include extreme inflation and limitations on the amount of time Russians are allowed to spend in the bathroom.
Ksenia Sobchak, who is running against Putin in the March elections, claimed the video is a “humiliation [to] those in the minority.”
“My opinion is that it’s possible to joke about everyoneabout Hitler and about gays,” Sobchak claimed in an Instagram post after the video went viral. “But to show LGBTQ [people] as a threat in a homophobic country it is no longer a joke.”
Actress Svetlana Galka, who portrays the wife, dismissed the criticism in a Feb. 18 interview with the Moscow-based radio station Govorit Moskva.
“This is simply a humorous promo,” she said. “So what?”
But the video is merely the latest attack on Russia’s LGBTQ community following the passage of an anti-gay “propaganda” law in 2014 forbidding the spread of information on “nontraditional sexual relationships” to minors. Its passage led to a total crackdown on queer life in the country: from banning Pride parades to fining an HIV/AIDS for posting news articles on Facebook.
Hate crimes against LGBTQ people have doubled in the four years since it was enacted.
At least seven candidates will challenge Putin for the presidency next month, but he will “run essentially unopposed,” as The Atlantic notes. Many of the other contendersincluding Sobchakare believed to be “dummy candidates” intended to give Russian voters the illusion of choice.
The candidates are merely “a Kremlin-approved steam valve for the liberal opposition,” the magazine reports.