Russia’s draconian new anti-LGBTQ+ laws could see games including Apex Legends, Overwatch 2, and The Last Of Us banned in Russia.
The Russian government recently passed a new law cracking down on the LGBTQ+ movement, as the country becomes more and more conservative under Vladimir Putin’s leadership.
The new bill outlaws all advertising, media and online resources, books, films and theatre productions deemed to contain ‘propaganda’, as well as the ‘the promotion of non-traditional relationships.’
This development has worried the queer gaming community in the country, which may soon be banned from playing popular games.
In early November, the first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee of Education, Yana Lantratova, named Apex Legends among a list of titles featuring LGBTQ+ characters that may be banned in Russia.
Other popular games like Assassin’s Creed, The Last Of Us, and Overwatch were also on her list.
‘We are talking about the promotion of non-traditional relationships when they are served as the norm, something attractive,’ Lantratova said.
Although Apex Legends is not a storytelling-based game, it has often gone out of its way to give its characters meaningful backstories, putting the limelight on their personal relationships.
The last few seasons, in particular, examined the relationship between Loba and her close friend Bangalore, who didn’t reciprocate the former’s affections.
Later on, Loba starts dating another queer character, Valkyrie, often sharing playful lines of dialogue in-game.
Moreover, the latest character that was added to Apex Legends, Catalyst, is a trans-woman and is voiced by Meli Grant, who is also trans.
However, Loba, Valkyrie, and Catalyst are hardly the only LGBTQ+ characters in Apex Legends, as Bloodhound, Gibraltar, Fuse, and Seer, all fall within the queer spectrum.
The same goes for Overwatch 1 and 2, as Tracer, arguably the most recognisable character in the game, was confirmed as gay in 2016.
In fact, the Christmas comic that confirmed her relationship with another woman was not released in Russia for that specific reason.
Soldier:76 is also another Overwatch character who ended up being revealed as gay, in a similar manner a few years later.
In March 2022, at the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EA announced the suspension of all sales, as well as the removal of its games and content listings from Russia and Belarus.
Several other companies followed suit, including Microsoft, CD Projekt, and Bloober Team.
EA also banned teams from both Russia and Belarus from competing in its official esports events, impacting both the Apex Legends Global Series (ALGS) and the EA Sports FIFA 22 Global Series.
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