By Katy Osborn
July 15, 2015

Hidden camera footage captured by a Moscow-based prank YouTube channel shows two men being harassed for holding hands while walking around downtown Moscow.

The three-and-a-half minute video, filmed over the course of two to three hours and uploaded Monday to YouTube by ChebuRussia TV, features young actors Artem Frantsuzov and Jay Babenko walking through Moscow’s central tourist district holding hands. Little do their passersby know, the mock-couple is being filmed by a third person, walking in front of them with a hidden camera in his backpack. They are met with homophobic slurs, shouts to “Leave Russia,” and are even punched on two occasions—the second of which threatens to escalate into the pair being beat up.

The video, originally in Russian but subtitled in English, has been viewed over 6 million times since Monday and has spawned hundreds of thousands of comments. While some of them are positive, the BBC notes, others echo the hateful speech seen in the footage.

Though homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, homophobic sentiment continues to have a stronghold—notably, in President Vladimir Putin, whose party unveiled a “straight flag” last week to “prevent gay fever.”

 

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