Double-use of LGBT youth in propaganda

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Since the mid-2000s Russian authorities banned lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) education propaganda domestically. However since at least 2014 Russia promoted both pro-LGBT and anti-LGBT education propaganda memes internationally, with a strong focus on LGBT youth. This article aims to explore Russia’s double-use of LGBT education propaganda. It outlines Soviet, Neo-Soviet and Eurasianist information operations concepts contextualizing Russian propaganda strategies and LGBT ideology for both defense and attack. It reports on a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) study investigating what 3,519 Facebook propaganda memes released by the US House of Representatives in 2018, and related US indictments, reveal about Russian online disinformation tactics. Analysis showed that the memes targeted both progressive and conservative ‘patriot’ groups using oppositional discourses on LGBT youth. Patterns of engagement began with relatively innocuous-looking memes the article names ‘Membership Calls’ and ‘Identity Celebrations’, linked to group pages and data collection forms further snowballing target group numbers. Increasingly, ‘both sides’ were pitched against each other and government(s) in destabilizing ways, through memes the article terms ‘Division Provocations’ and ‘Political Influence
    Attempts’. The memes reflected both existing and novel Russian information operations concepts and tactics on LGBT people; and exploited opportunities unique to social media to devastate democratic ‘majority rule’ debates.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)408-431
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of LGBT Youth
    Issue number4
    Early online date4 Oct 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


    • LGBT
    • youth
    • education
    • propaganda
    • Russia


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