Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda” has taken another victim: The annual Warwick Rowers naked calendar has been banned in the country, because proceeds benefit LGBT causes. A customs agent allegedly rejected the cheeky release.
Angus Malcolm, who shoots and produces the calendars, says about 23 had been sent to addresses in Russia, with six already sent back. Malcolm hasn’t been told anything by authorities, but insists “it has to be something to do with the content.”
The Warwick Rowers website was also recently hit by a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, which sent 7,268 visits per second to the site. The DDOS was reportedly traced to an IP address in Russia.
Published every year since 2009, the Warwick Rowers calendar benefits Sport Allies, an nonprofit that fights homophobia in sports. Each returned calendar costs Malcolm’s team $30 in shipping and packaging.
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“My heart goes out to the rowers’ Russian fans, who are increasingly subjected to acts of hatred and discrimination that shouldn’t be tolerated in any society anywhere across the globe,” Malcolm told The Independent. “The fact Russian customs rejected our calendar is nothing compared to the suffering some LGBT+ people face every day, but it acts as a signifier of the wider problem.”
“This is a bunch of straight men getting their kit off for LGBT rights. With the rise of Putin’s brand of populism around the world, we have never needed straight allies like the Warwick Rowers more than we do now,” he added. “If they can’t cope with a few naked bums, then frankly that’s quite sad.”