While touring in support of their latest self-titled album, Rammstein traded their signature pyrotechnics for a different kind of fireworks in Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia: Swathed in metallic body paint, guitarists Paul Landers and Richard Kruspe exchanged a fleeting kiss while performing their 2019 song “Ausländer.” The kiss was in direct protest of Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws. (The kiss happens at the 4:55-mark in the above video.)
Passed in 2013 by President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s “gay propaganda” law bans materials that would “[present] distorted ideas about the equal social value of traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships.” Condemned by human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the law essentially renders it illegal in Russia to express any kind of homosexuality and gender-non-conformity in public; Elton John recently penned an open letter to Putin after his biopic Rocketman was edited due to the law.
Russia has also seen an uptick in homophobic violence since the passage of the law. Rammstein’s kiss comes a month after the murder of LGBTQ activist Yelena Grigoryeva, whose name was listed on a Russian website that offers prizes for “hunting” gay people and their advocates.
The gay propaganda law is also enforced against foreigners, who may be arrested and detained for up to 15 days, or fined up to 5,000 rubles, then deported. Though it has not been confirmed whether Rammstein have faced such consequences, the band wrote on Instagram Tuesday: “Russia we love you!”
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It’s not the first time the band has expressed support for the LGBTQ community: at a previous show in Poland, frontman Till Lindemann was seen waving a Pride flag, while crowdsurfing in an inflatable boat.
The band will continue their stadium tour in St. Petersburg this Friday, August 2nd.