No clowning around?

April 6, 2017—Russia has outlawed so-called gay clown memes that depict its leader, Vladimir Putin, in drag, labeling them “extremist materials.”

Protesters have used such images of Putin to oppose Russia’s anti-gay laws, particularly its “gay propaganda” law, which prohibits public discussion of homosexuality around children. The punishment for offenders who distribute, retweet, or share the image is 15 days in prison or a fine of 3,000 rubles ($53). It’s a reminder that free speech, enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, is not universal—and it doesn’t come free.

Image credit: Dennis Doyle/Getty Images

Source: Tim Lister and Mary Ilyushina, “Russia bans images of Putin linked to ‘gay clown’ meme,” CNN, April 6, 2017