Russian politician calls Apple’s free U2 album ‘gay propaganda’

Alexander Starovoitov claims the band "spammed youths with illegal content"

A Russian politician has asked the country’s attorney general to investigate Apple for distributing “gay propaganda” to minors following last year’s free distribution of U2‘s ‘Songs of Innocence’ to iTunes.

The Guardian reports that Alexander Starovoitov, a Duma deputy and member of the rightwing LDPR party, is claiming that the consumer tech giant spammed young people with illegal content when it ‘gifted’ the album to 500 million iTunes users last September.

Though originally released by Apple with cover artwork that resembled white label packaging commonly used for promotional LP record pressings, the physical release of the album featured an image of drummer Larry Mullen Jr hugging his 18-year-old son, Elvis, shirtless. The artwork, shot by Glen Luchford, was described by Bono as a “raw, naked” cover that reflected the new album.

“‘Songs of Innocence’ is the most intimate album we’ve ever made,” he said via the group’s website. “With this record we were looking for the raw, naked and personal, to strip everything back. If you know the album you’ll see the themes in the visual language, how holding on to your own innocence is a lot harder than holding on to someone else’s.”

According to Starovoitov however, the album art promotes gay sexual practices. The newspaper Izvestia has reported that lawyer Evgeny Tonky is preparing to sue Apple for compensation for moral damages on behalf of his own son. If found guilty, the San Francisco-based company may be forced to cease operations in Russia for up to 90 days or pay a fine.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook publically addressed being gay for the first time in an open letter released last October. “I’m proud to be gay,” he wrote, “and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

The announcement prompted the removal of a statue of Apple founder Steve Jobs from a university in St Petersburg, something Elton John criticised during a concert in the city last November. “How dignified that St Petersburg should erect a memorial to Steve Jobs, the remarkable founder of Apple,” John is reported to have told fans. “But last week it was labeled ‘homosexual propaganda’ and taken down!

“Can this be true? Steve’s memory is re-written because his successor at Apple, Tim Cook, is gay?! Does that also make iPads gay propaganda?! Is Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music ‘sexually perverting’?! As a gay man, I’ve always felt so welcome here in Russia. Stories of Russian fans – men and women who fell in love dancing to ‘Nikita’ or their kids who sing along to ‘Circle of Life’ – mean the world to me.”

Following the release of ‘Songs of Innocence’ to iTunes, some users complained about the record being automatically downloaded onto their Apple products without their permission. Apple later released a tool to allow its customers to remove the LP from their devices with just one click.