December 1, 2023
Cited article by Human Rights Watch
HRRC emphasizes the urgent need for immediate international action in response to the Russian Supreme Court’s designation of the "international LGBT movement" as an "extremist organization” in order to safeguard the rights of the LGBT community in the face of this oppressive ruling.
The Supreme Court of Russia recently deemed the "international LGBT movement" an "extremist organization," posing a significant threat to all forms of LGBT rights activism in the country, according to Human Rights Watch. In a closed hearing, the court sided with the Justice Ministry's lawsuit, accusing the LGBT movement of inciting social and religious discord. This decision allows authorities to prosecute individuals associated with LGBT rights arbitrarily. The move is believed to serve a dual purpose, contributing to the scapegoating of LGBT individuals for political gain and hindering the work of rights groups combating discrimination and supporting the LGBT community. Under Russian law, participating in or financing an extremist organization can result in up to 12 years in prison, while displaying related symbols may lead to detention or imprisonment. The ruling also enables the authorities to include suspected individuals in a nationwide "list of extremists," freezing their bank accounts and barring them from public office.
Human rights defenders argue that the decision is discriminatory and violates a range of rights. With a history of misusing anti-extremism legislation, Russian authorities have targeted peaceful critics, including opposition figure Alexey Navalny and his supporters. The "gay propaganda" law has been exploited for over a decade to suppress LGBT individuals and activists, perpetuating damaging stereotypes and restricting rights. Recently, Russia's parliament enacted legislation violating transgender people's rights, further contributing to the precarious situation for LGBT rights in the country. Human Rights Watch calls on countries worldwide, especially the European Union, to offer safe haven and support to those fleeing persecution, emphasizing the urgent need for international assistance in protecting Russian LGBT rights activists.