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St. Petersburg ‘Rainbow’ theater festival is renamed due to the law on ‘LGBT propaganda’

A St. Petersburg theater festival formerly known as the Rainbow Festival has changed its name to the International Theater Festival. The festival, which has run since 2000, aims to attract new theater productions and directors for young people. In the past, the festival has attracted theater groups from the U.S., Great Britain, and Germany.

The festival organizers announced preliminary dates for the 24th annual festival, and said that they’ll be accepting applications under the new name. However, the festival’s web address preserves the old name —

Svetlana Lavretsova, the director of the theater which hosts the festival, said, “When the law passed banning LGBT propaganda, we immediately started thinking. We don’t want to look like we’re making LGBT propaganda, so we gathered our team to decide whether to change the name ahead of time or temporarily drop it. On the one hand, we’re aware of the insanity this all leads to in the surrounding reality. On the other hand, it’s our brand.”

State Duma deputy Alexander Khinshtein said that no one required that festival leadership change the name, and that Russian legislation hasn’t banned the rainbow, as long as it’s the “classic” seven-colored variety, and not a symbol of anything LGBTQ+-related. He added that “it is precisely such steps” as renaming a festival that lead to insanity in the application of Russian anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

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