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Russian courts begin prosecuting people for LGBT extremism

Russian courts have delivered their first known convictions against people for promoting what the country has designated ‘extremist LGBT ideology’.

Back in November the Russian Supreme Court declared that the “international LGBT movement” was an extremist movement. The decision has been criticised by international bodies as being vaguely worded and opening a pathway for widespread harassment of LGBTIQA+ people.

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As part of the ruling the Pride flag has been outlawed in Russia. Previously promotion of “non-traditional relationships” to minors was illegal, and this law was later expanded to also include adults. The latest crackdown on the LGBTIQA+ communities saw reports of police raiding venues on a regular basis.

At least three cases of people being prosecuted for displaying the Pride symbol have passed through courts in recent weeks.

According to Human Rights Watch, in late January, a court in Nizhny Novgorod sentenced a woman to five days detention for wearing rainbow-colored earrings after an individual accosted her and her friend in a cafe.

Also in late January, a judge in Volgograd region handed down a fine over a rainbow flag published on a social media page. In early February, a court in Saratov fined a woman for posting a rainbow flag on social media.

“The Supreme Court decision opened the floodgates to allow arbitrary prosecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, along with anyone who defends their rights or expresses solidarity with them,” said Tanya Lokshina, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “For years, Russian authorities tried to erase LGBT visibility, and now they have criminalized it.”

As the Pride movement is now classed an “extremist” Russian citizens can face tough penalties for display any symbols associated with Pride or the LGBTIQA+ communities.  Those arrested face up to 15 days in detention for the first offense and up to four years in prison for a repeat offense. Participating in or financing an extremist organization is punishable by up to 12 years in prison.

The authorities may include individuals suspected of involvement with an extremist organization in the countrywide “list of extremists” and freeze their bank accounts. People deemed to be involved with an extremist organization are barred from running for public office.

There have been reports that social media posts of the rainbow flag that were made years before the law was introduced are being treated as current offences.

OIP Staff


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