Russian police investigate Apple for ‘propagating homosexuality’

Officials in Russia's Kirov region have brought an administrative case against Apple, the maker of the iPhone, for illegally promoting homosexuality, according to police documents published by the Russian news site Gazeta.ru

The evidence against Apple is the set of emojis included with iOS 8.3, which contains several images depicting families with same-sex parents, gay pride flags, and more. Police launched the case in response to a complaint by a local attorney named Yaroslav Mikhailov, who argues that Apple is violating Russia's ban on so-called "gay propaganda" in the presence of minors. 

Mikhailov told Gazeta.ru that he initially appealed to Russia's Attorney General and Pavel Astakhov, the Commissioner for Children's Rights. The complaint, Mikhailov says, was redirected to local law enforcement, who found that there is reason enough to begin a formal investigation.

The case was opened in August, when police sent a copy of the emojis to regional forensics experts, who must now determine if the images qualify as "gay propaganda." If the analysis shows that Apple's emojis do in fact promote homosexuality, the company faces a fine ranging from 800,000 to 1 million rubles ($12,000 to $15,000). In theory, the authorities would also have the power to suspend Apple's activities throughout Russia, if Apple is convicted of violating the ban on "gay propaganda."