LGBTQ Conversion therapy
The Kremlin has been actively pushing the rhetoric of the need to protect "traditional values" from what it calls the West's degrading influence

Russia's top court bans LGBTQ+ activism in landmark ruling

The Kremlin has been cracking down on the gay, lesbian and transgender community for the past ten years, but this order has been the most drastic

In one of the most drastic and shocking crackdowns on the gay, lesbian and transgender community in Russia, the country's top court on Thursday (November 30) effectively outlawed LGBTQ+ activists terming them as "extremists".

In its ruling, Russia's Supreme Court said that the “international LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) movement" and its subdivision were extremists and issued a ban on its activities in Russia.

According to reports, this is the most drastic step taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the last ten years that he has been targetting the LGBTQ+ community. In his view, the West was welcome to adopt “rather strange, new-fangled trends like dozens of genders, and gay parades", but they had no right to impose them on other countries.

The Kremlin has been actively pushing the rhetoric of the need to protect "traditional values" from what it calls the West's degrading influence.

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”. However, it failed to offer any 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.

Broad and vague

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”.

“Despite the fact that the Justice Ministry demands to label a non-existent organisation, the international civic LGBT movement, as extremist, in practice it could happen that the Russian authorities, with this court ruling at hand, will enforce it against LGBTQ+ initiatives that work in Russia, considering them a part of this civic movement,” Max Olenichev, human rights lawyer who works with the Russian LGBTQ+ community, told The Associated Press ahead of the hearing.

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.

Bad to worse

On this order against the LGBT people, the UN Human Rights Office said that the LBGT community's situation Russia was “just going from bad to worse", with its members fearing arrest and prosecution. The UN Human Rights chief Volker Turk issued a statement calling on the Russian authorities "to repeal, immediately, laws that place improper restrictions on the work of human rights defenders or that discriminate against LGBT people."

Meanwhile, Amnesty International called the ruling "shameful and absurd". It said that this order may result in a blanket ban of LGBTQ+ organisations which will violate freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and lead to discrimination, reported Al Jazeera, which added that Russia has been cracking down on liberal-leaning groups and curtailing the rights of gays and transgenders since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year.

(With inputs from agencies)

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