Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday effectively banned LGBTQ+ activism, in the most drastic step against advocates of gay, lesbian and transgender rights in the increasingly conservative country.
The ruling was prompted by a motion from the justice ministry, even though no such organisation exists as a legal entity.
In a statement announcing a lawsuit filed to the court earlier this month, the Justice Ministry argued that authorities had identified “signs and manifestations of an extremist nature” by an LGBTQ+ “movement” operating in Russia, including “incitement of social and religious discord”, although it offered no details or evidence. In its ruling, the court declared the “movement” to be extremist and banned it in Russia.
The hearing took place behind closed doors and with no defendant. Multiple rights activists have pointed out that the lawsuit targeted the “international civic LGBT movement”, which is not an entity but rather a broad and vague definition that would allow Russian authorities to crack down on any individuals or groups deemed to be part of the “movement”.
Some LGBTQ+ activists have said they sought to become a party to the lawsuit, arguing that it concerns their rights, but were rejected by the court. The Justice Ministry has not responded to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
The Supreme Court ruling is the latest step in a decadelong crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights in Russia begun under President Vladimir Putin, who has put “traditional family values” at the cornerstone of his rule.
In 2013, the Kremlin adopted the first legislation restricting LGBTQ+ rights, known as the “gay propaganda” law, banning any public endorsement of “nontraditional sexual relations” among minors.
In 2020, constitutional reforms pushed through by Putin to extend his rule by two more terms also included a provision to outlaw same-sex marriage.
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