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Россия, мы любим тебя! Photos: @jenskochphoto

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In a pointed protest of Russia’s anti-LGBTQ policies, two members of the German heavy-metal band Rammstein shared a kiss during their concert in Moscow on Tuesday.

As the Independent reported, guitarists Paul Landers and Richard Kruspe kissed while playing “Ausländer,” a 2019 single that takes its name from the German word for foreigner. The moment was widely praised for its defiance of Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, which prohibits “the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors.

Human rights advocates say the broad law, adopted in 2013, is harmful to LGBTQ youth — preventing them from accessing educational information and resources including mental health services. In 2017, a European court ruled the law discriminatory, noting it “had reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia.”

The public kiss took place just days after Yelena Grigorieva, a prominent LGBTQ activist, was found dead with multiple stab wounds and signs she had been strangled. As The Washington Post’s Reis Thebault reported, Grigorieva’s name had recently appeared, alongside those of other activists and journalists, on a Russian website encouraging its users to “hunt” gay people.

Grigorieva’s killing is the latest in a pattern of anti-LGBTQ violence in Russia. In recent years, the country has faced particular criticism over widespread human rights abuses — including the reported executions of gay men — in its republic of Chechnya.

In Moscow, where Rammstein brought its Europe Stadium Tour this week, it is illegal to hold a pride parade. The band, known for its provocative and highly produced stage displays, has championed LGBTQ rights during other tour stops. Last week, Jens Koch — the photographer credited on the now-viral photo of Landers and Kruspe kissing — shared a photo of the band waving pride flags at its concert in Chorzów, Poland. The show was held less than a week after a pride parade in the northeastern city of Bialystok was disrupted by anti-LGBTQ violence.

On Tuesday, Landers and Kruspe’s kiss was commemorated on Rammstein’s official Instagram account. “Russia, we love you,” declares the caption, which is written in Russian.

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