Russia bans ‘international LGBT movement’

Published December 1, 2023
Youths react outside Russia’s Supreme Court building in Moscow on Nov 30, 2023. — AFP
Youths react outside Russia’s Supreme Court building in Moscow on Nov 30, 2023. — AFP

MOSCOW: Russia on Thursday banned the “international LGBT movement,” claiming it was an extremist group in a move that cements a long crackdown on the community as the Kremlin pushes ultra-conservative social values.

The conservative turn promoted by President Vladimir Putin — often portrayed as an existential fight against Western liberal values — has accelerated since the offensive in Ukraine.

The supreme court handed down the ruling in Moscow on Thursday, journalists in court reported. It did not say whether certain individuals or organisations would be affected by the ruling.

Judge Oleg Nefedov ruled that “the international LGBT public movement and its subdivisions” were extremist, and issued a “ban on its activities on the territory of Russia”.

The hearing took place behind closed doors and without any defence present. Fewer than 10 people had gathered outside the court. “I hoped more people would come (to show support), but very few people came,” said Ada Blakewell, a journalist.

“It shows how scared everyone is… to talk about anything related to LGBTQ people.” The judge said the order should be executed immediately — though some rights NGOs said there would be bureaucratic delays.

“It’s causing a huge panic, because it’s completely unclear who will be prosecuted under this ban,” Noel Shaida, the head of communication at LGBTQ rights NGO Sphere Foundation, said.

If applied to individuals, the “extremist” label means gay, lesbian, transgender or queer people living in Russia could face years in jail. It also opens the way to the criminal prosecution of any group protecting the rights of these communities in Russia.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2023

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