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Raids on LBGTQ+ Clubs in Russia

Russian Police Raid LGBT Clubs in Two Russian Cities, After Supreme Court Declares “Extremist Movement”

By: Emily Reid


Police forces began raiding LGBTQ+ clubs in Moscow and in Saint Petersburg on Friday 1st December, just a day after the Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw the “international LGBT movement”, which has been labelled as “extremist”. The news was broken by two online media outlets in Russia, who also reported that police were photographing the passports of those attending club events.


In a press release issued by the UN, the Human Rights Office stated: “Policemen in balaclavas stormed in and carried out unsanctioned searches of the premises, while visitors had their identity documents checked and photographed, creating further risks of harassment or misuse of their personal information.”


One of the raided clubs has announced its closure because they have been denied the ability to continue renting the building due to a law passed by the Supreme Court. Authorities in Russia deny allegations of discrimination, claiming the events were drug raids, according to local media.

Photo by Dimitro Sevastopol


In recent years, conditions for LGBTQ+ people have been worsening in Russia, as President Vladimir Putin pledges to uphold “traditional values” within the country. Towards the end of 2022, the Putin administration began cracking down on the LGBTQ+ community in Russia, developing a ban on “LGBTQ+ propaganda”. The bills that have been passed include vague wording, resulting in their intentions or meanings being difficult to clarify. Still, it is now illegal to publicly support or advertise LGBTQ+ relationships or ideas. If considered to be a part of the alleged “international LGBTQ+ movement”, members of the LGBTQ+ community could be sentenced to a lengthy time in prison.


Igor Kochetkov, head of the Russian LGBT Network, said: “Even though there is no such thing as an international LGBT movement, it is clear that all legal activities of LGBT organisations will be impossible in Russia.” 


This is an expansion of the federal law passed in 2013, disallowing children to be exposed to any form of homosexuality or acts that do not fit into Russia’s “traditional family values” titled “for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating a Denial of Traditional Family Values". This new law now includes the adult population.


The United Nations recently reported on the Russian Supreme Court’s law and concerns were raised by human rights experts about the “dangerous precedent and far-reaching negative consequences” of this implementation. Experts have acted on these concerns and sent an official letter to the Government of Russia as a result of the reported human rights violations against LGBTQ+ people living in Russia.

 

It has also been suggested this is a populist move for next year’s election, with the country becoming increasingly more conservative since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. UN experts warn that organisations and human rights defenders may be forced to stop working within Russia. Some LGBTQ+ defence lawyers have already stopped working in Russia out of fear of prosecution.


Putin has declared his aims to uphold his anti-LGBTQ+ political agenda, as this Supreme Court decision marks the latest step in his legislative action which contributes to the hardships of LGBTQ+ persons living in Russia, and sparks fear in the community over what the future holds.

 

 

 

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