Spongebob Squarepants is a gay cartoon character who is a “real threat” to Ukrainian children, according to the country’s morality watchdog.
Whilst policing media to check it adheres to the Ukraine’s strict morality laws, the watchdog found a report on a conservative Catholic website, which slammed a number of cartoon characters for their “promotion of homosexuality”, reported national newspaper Ukraínskaya Pravda.
The allegations in the report have been judged so serious the National Expert Commission for Protecting Public Morality is planning a separate meeting to discuss whether the cartoons should be banned.
Spongebob: is he "just good friends" with Gary the snail?
Other cartoons which sparked fears include the Teletubbies, in particularly Tinky Winky, whose handbag raised eyebrows amongst the right wing Ukrainian Catholic group, which the Wall Street Journal named as “Family Under the Protection of the Holy Virgin”.
Not only was the purple-suited character judged to encourage homosexuality, but also deemed responsible for causing children to have the "psychology of a loser."
The cartoon was also considered to provoke “dullness” and cause children to “repeat nonsense phrases in a brazen manner, in front of adults they don’t know”, according to psychologist Irina Medvédeva, who was quoted in the report.
Disney films such as The Lion King and Jungle Book are “gay parades” and turn children into criminals and perverts, while Shrek promotes sadism, and undermines family values.
Shrek: a 'sadist'
Both Tinky Winky and Spongebob Squarepants have been “outed” before. Spongebob, who lives in an underwater pineapple with pink snail Gary and receives driving lessons from Mrs Puff, has been popular with the gay community since his inception in 1999. However, he was described as “asexual” by creator Stephen Hillenburg in 2002, who said his popularity was merely down to Spongebob’s inclusive attitude.
Whispers over Tinky Winky's sexuality have long dogged the handbag-loving character
The lumbering squeaking character was labelled a homosexual icon not only because of his love of accessories, but because "he is purple, the gay pride colour, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle: the gay pride symbol," right wing Christian campaigner John Felwell told the New York Times.
Ken Viselman of Itsy-Bitsy Entertainment, which distributed the show in the US, rejoined: "He's not gay. He's not straight. He's just a character in a children's series."
While reports such as these seem laughable, the gravity of the Ukrainian response is a stark reminder of the human rights abuses taking place in some parts of Eastern Europe. It is made especially pertinent as a Russian court found the punk band Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for protesting against Putin in a church.