The Moscow branch of Russian political party United Russia unveiled a "heterosexual flag" this week that was designed to counteract the success of the rainbow flag used to celebrate gay rights. The flag shows a man and a woman standing with three children and features the hashtag #НастоящаяСемья, which translates to #RealFamily.
"This is our response to same-sex marriage, a mockery of the concept of family," Alexey Lisovenko, deputy head of United Russia's Moscow branch, explained to pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia. "We have to warn about gay fever at home and maintain traditional values."
The flag was to be unveiled at Russia's Day of Family, Love and Fidelity, an annual event in the country on Wednesday. Images from the event show a number of people standing with the flag.
United Russia is the dominant party in Russia's Duma, and is closely aligned with President Vladimir Putin. However, at the time of writing #НастоящаяСемья has only been tweeted a few thousands times on Twitter, though it may be more successful on other social networks.
Shortly after the flag appeared, RIP Novosti – a satirical Twitter account named after recently reorganized Russian newswire Ria Novosti – pointed out that the flag bore a remarkable similarity to a flag used by anti-same sex marriage protesters in France.
This wasn't the only mockery on Twitter, with others hijacking the hashtag to post their own flags in support of same-sex couples.
On VK, a popular Russian social network that resembles Facebook, some accounts spammed the #НастоящаяСемья hashtag with photographs that show same-sex couples and photographs of naked men.
Same-sex marriage is illegal in Russia, and while homosexuality is not illegal in the country, Moscow has been criticized by LGBT and human rights groups for laws that prohibit so-called gay propaganda. However, the success of same-sex marriage advocates in the United States has led some hardline Russian conservatives to shift their tone on homosexuality in Russia. “The LGBT community is a fact," Dmitry Kiselyov, a notorious conservative television host said recently. “In the end, love works wonders. Who is against it?”