Russia Declares LGBTQ+ Activism “Extremist,” Threatens the Lives of All LGBTQ+ People in Their Country

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Russia’s Supreme Court put at risk the safety and wellbeing of countless people throughout their country by outlawing what it calls the “international LGBT public movement” and labeling it as “extremist.” What the “international LGBT public movement” is was not defined in their ruling, but the phrase has been used by Russian officials in the past to shut down LGBTQ+ organizations, persecute LGBTQ+ people, and stifle LGBTQ+ life. This decision means that individuals risk being further persecuted and potentially imprisoned in a country where being LGBTQ+ already poses serious threats.

In response, Human Rights Campaign’s Director of Global Partnerships, Jean Freedberg, released the following statement:

“This decision by Russia’s highest court is a reprehensible display of repression in a country where LGBTQ+ people already fear for their lives. The hearing took place in secret, sealed off from public scrutiny and closed to those who wished to speak in defense of LGBTQ+ people. There is no justice in this decision, there is no justice in governing based on fear, and there is no justice in a country that is intent on criminalizing people on the basis of who they are or who they love. We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, and we will continue to fight alongside them for freedom and equality.”

This ruling is just the latest in Russia’s efforts to shut down the human rights movement, using vague and undefined “extremist” language, and will have a significant impact on the LGBTQ+ community. Russia’s Supreme Court has not defined the so-called “international LGBT public movement,” instead leaving it up to other officials to translate the language of the ruling however they choose. Undoubtedly, this will lead to the imprisonment and loss of livelihood for untold numbers of people who simply want to be themselves and love who they love.

In 2013, Russia’s “gay propaganda” law made it illegal to show any “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” That law was then expanded in 2022 to include a wider range of potential crimes targeting the LGBTQ+ community. Then, in 2023, the Russian parliament passed sweeping anti-trans legislation. This most recent attack is just one of many steps that the country’s government has taken to shut down LGBTQ+ advocacy and persecute LGBTQ+ people for their mere existence.

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