Gela Gogishvili and his boyfriend Haoyang Xu are a famous pair of YouTubers based in Russia, uploading videos to YouTube and TikTok of them doing TikTok trends, sharing a simple kiss, dancing together, and generally just depicting their lives as a couple.
But now, one of them has been arrested and is facing deportation.
The couple met two years ago on a dating app after Chinese-born Haoyang Xu moved to Russia to study Russian at university. Since then, they’ve become stars on YouTube and TikTok.
However, they’ve been facing mounting pressure from Russian authorities, and now, one of them is facing the reality of getting deported.
Gogishvili posted a YouTube video saying that police had stopped his boyfriend on the premise of asking to see his passport and registration documents, but when they tried to show the passport to the officers at a restaurant, they instead escorted the couple back to the police station.
Gay couple HAOYANG and GELA: separated because of LGBT propaganda? 😭youtu.be
“It seemed like a trap,” Gela said in the video. “We arrived at the police station and they accused me of LGBTQ+ propaganda Article 6.21. Haoyang is threatened with deportation. They deceived us.”
Gogishvili said that they were held at the police station for hours, and Xu was detained overnight and had his mobile phone confiscated.
According to the Russian court, Xu was accused of uploading 19 videos in which he and Gogishvili “touch each other on different parts of the body, including the genitals” and also accused of “spreading among minors the desire to change sex.”
Russia’s LGBTQ+ “propaganda” law bans LGBTQ+ people from promoting any kind of positive or neutral message about being queer in any form of media.
According to Moscow-based LGBTQ+ group Delo LGBT+, the couple have been being targeted by authorities since December. In February, they had to flee to Moscow to escape police pressure before returning to Kazan.
Xu was found guilty and sentenced to a week in a temporary detention center for migrants before being deported.
His lawyers are appealing the ruling.