Many people have used social media sites as way to start and develop new relationships, but one Russian site has alienated anyone looking for a same-sex relationship.
Social networking is more than just posting silly cat pictures on one another’s news feeds or getting into pointless fights over trivial matters, as many people use it to keep in touch with their loved ones or develop new relationships with prospective partners. Facebook is a favourite for many, and there have been tales of love developing online between two people that have led to a happily-ever-after ending.
However, the leading social networking site in Russia has cut the legs out from under a large number of people looking to simply live their lives by limiting relationship status options to opposite-sex pairings. Gay rights activists have been up in arms at the discriminatory practice, which is technically within the letter of Russian law but still disheartening to not be able to openly acknowledge your relationship preference on a social media site with as many as 120 million active accounts, according to some reports.
The site, VKontatke, has been held up as “the Russian Facebook” on more than one occasion because of how popular it is in the Eastern bloc. However, unlike Facebook, which offers options for same-sex relationships and even marriages, the Russian analogue has been clinging to an outdated way of thinking – especially since there are so many members of the LGBT community actively support VKontatke for their social networking needs.
The Russian landscape has been hostile to gays and lesbians for quite some time, both online and offline. The Moscow Pride Parade held earlier this year featured several disruptive violent incidents that led to arrests being made, and a general feeling of unease permeates the LGBT community, making it hard to openly date and seek relationships out of fear of reprisal.