A Russian legislator has accused Apple and the band U2 of violating the Russian law “against gay propaganda among minors” by uploading U2’s latest album, Songs of Innocence, to iTunes customers worldwide, including Russia, in September 2014.
Alexander Starovoitov, a member of the Russian State Duma, the lower chamber of Parliament, asked the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the incident and rule whether it came as a breach of the controversial legislation adopted two years ago and widely viewed as a crackdown on the Russian gay community in general.
“Just like many citizens of the Russian Federation, I am an iPhone owner,” Starovoitov said in the address to the Prosecutor’s Office, quoted by the Russian daily Izvestia. “In 2014, tracks by U2 were uploaded in a viral way to my Music folder in iTunes, with the album cover featuring what I believe to be two men engaged in a manifestation of non-traditional sexual relations.”
Starovoitov apparently referred to the album’s cover photo featuring the band’s drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. embracing his 18-year-old son, Elvis, while both are shirtless.
Back in September 2014, U2 explained on its web site that the image was supposed to show “in the visual language, how ‘holding on to your own innocence is a lot harder than holding on to someone else’s.'”
However, in Russia, where homophobic attitudes have been common over the last couple of years, Starovoitov’s interpretation of the cover image doesn’t come as a surprise.
In late 2013, a promoter of Lady Gaga‘s Russian show was fined under the “gay propaganda” law.
Last year, several Russia hard-line officials, including legislator Vitaly Milonov, the main proponent of the law “against gay propaganda,” ridiculed cross-dresser Conchita Wurst‘s Eurovision Song Contest victory and called for banning the singer from touring Russia and boycotting Eurovision.
Later the same year, following Apple CEO Tim Cook‘s announcement that he is gay, a monument to Steve Jobs and Apple was removed from a St. Petersburg university in a move that many believed came as a response to Cook’s coming-out.
Apple declined to comment when reached by Billboard. A representative of U2 did not immediately respond.