“Shameful and Absurd”: Russian Supreme Court Labels LGBT ‘Movement’ Extremist

In 2013, a gay rights activist is seen holding a poster that reads “Love is stronger than homophobia!” while sitting inside a police van following his detention at a rally in central Moscow.

A recent ruling by Russia’s Supreme Court has labelled the LGBT “movement” as “extremist,” leading to concerns about increased persecution of gay and transgender individuals.

Following a private hearing, the court announced on November 30 that it had granted a Justice Ministry request to classify the “international LGBT social movement” as extremist, thereby prohibiting its operations in the country.

Human rights organisations in Russia urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the ministry’s request, arguing that labelling a group of people as a ‘social movement’ based solely on their social group or personal characteristics is unjustifiable.

This ruling is the most recent setback for LGBT rights in Russia. Last year, President Vladimir Putin broadened a 2013 law that prohibits the dissemination of “gay propaganda” among children to encompass individuals of all ages.

“I urge the Russian authorities to revoke, without delay, laws that impose unjust restrictions on the activities of human rights defenders or that show bias against LGBT individuals,” stated UN human rights chief Volker Turk.

Amnesty International expressed strong concerns about the ruling, warning of severe consequences and the potential persecution of LGBTI activists in Russia.

“This decision is disgraceful and nonsensical, marking a fresh battleground in the Russian government’s crackdown on the LGBTI community,” stated Marie Struthers, the director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

This decision could lead to a widespread prohibition of LGBTI organisations, impacting fundamental rights such as freedom of association, expression, peaceful assembly, and protection from discrimination. This will have a significant impact on numerous individuals, with potentially devastating consequences,” she stated, urging Russian authorities to review the decision.

Activists are concerned about potential threats to LGBT organisations and the possibility of considering internationally recognised LGBT symbols as “extremist.”

Check out: Activists and rights defenders caution that the recent ruling may result in the widespread prosecution of not only activists but also individuals seeking refuge from homophobic violence, facing a potential 10-year imprisonment.

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In Russia, it is illegal for individuals and groups to endorse or advocate for an extremist organisation, which includes sharing its symbol in any form. Penalties can include fines, closures, or imprisonment.

According to experts, Putin is focusing on LGBT and other minorities in order to satisfy his conservative supporters before the upcoming presidential election in March.

Activists in Moscow told RFE/RL that they anticipate a rise in fear and insecurity, leading to more people leaving Russia.

“Those who remain for different reasons will struggle to feel secure – even more than previously,” one activist informed Current Time, the Russian-language network operated by RFE/RL in partnership with VOA.

One individual mentioned that work on a shelter for transgender individuals will no longer be able to proceed.

The activist emphasised the importance of ensuring safety for transgender individuals in Russia, despite the risks involved. They also mentioned that efforts to help people leave the country will persist.

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