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‘Are they going to ban rainbows?’ How Russian society is reacting to the authorities’ bid to outlaw the ill-defined ‘LGBT movement’

Source: Meduza
Mikhail Metsel / AP / Scanpix / LETA

On November 17, the Russian Justice Ministry announced that it had filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court demanding that the “international LGBT movement” be banned as an “extremist organization” in Russia. The agency failed to explain what exactly the “LGBT movement” is, who leads it, or how it’s structured, but it claimed to have identified signs of an “extremist orientation” in its workings. The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the request on November 30. Meduza has compiled some of the initial reactions to the suit from prominent Russian journalists, politicians, and bloggers.

Valery Fadeyev

Chairman of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council

What LGBT movement? Is this a movement, an organization, that exists in Russia? That what my initial thought. We’ll have to look at the details of this lawsuit and see what we’re talking about here.

Yekaterina Mizulina

Head of the Safe Internet League

This means a serious barrier will be imposed against values that undermine Russia and destroy our identity. I want to thank the courage and professionalism of our law enforcement officers, Justice Ministry specialists, and Safe Internet League experts who helped prepare this historic event. We’re making progress.

Farida Rustamova

Independent journalist

The Russian Justice Ministry invented the “international LGBT public movement” and is now trying to ban it. In practice, this will likely mean they’ll be able to jail someone for having a rainbow flag on their social media avatar, for example. That’s the kind of electoral campaign Putin is running as he approaches his fifth term.

Leonid Volkov

Politician, Alexey Navalny associate

And so it begins: Putin’s “electoral campaign dedicated to traditional values” that we were promised, with Russia portrayed as a “family of families.”

Well, to be precise, it started a bit earlier, when they suddenly launched their anti-abortion agenda from all directions. Now is the second step. The fact that there’s no “extremist LGBTQ+ organization” is of no concern to anyone, of course; Putin’s political strategists need the image of an enemy that the elderly president can confidently defeat, and as a bonus, all Center E branches will get the chance to fabricate as many criminal cases as they want and receive promotions.

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Ksenia Sobchak

Journalist and media figure

EVERYONE has finally fucking lost it. It’s just unbelievable.

We’re really going to find ourselves in the same league as North Korea, the Taliban, and Hamas pretty soon.

Yevgeny Popov

Deputy chair of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, propagandist

The details of this lawsuit are not very clear, and, of course, we can’t predict what decision the court will make. So let’s refrain from speculating about it right now, because we’ve begun discussing even the rainbow openly and publicly. Let’s not be absurd — it’s impossible to ban a rainbow, wind, storms, or clouds.

As far as LGBT’s recognition as some kind of organization — let’s look at the explanations, the arguments from both sides. It will be a very interesting legal process. For now, I don’t have an understanding of how it will be interpreted.

Sergey Badashmin


Are they going to declare rainbows “extremist material?”

Maksim Olenichev


LGBT activists will continue their work; after all, there are millions of LGBT people living in Russia. But their work will get significantly more dangerous. The number of LGBT initiatives will most likely shrink, some will go underground, but the work of helping LGBT people will continue — in new conditions and with higher risks.

Sergey Parkhomenko


Am I understanding correctly that this international LGBT movement that the Russian Justice Ministry wants to declare extremist and ban is not a specific organization, not a legal entity or an association of people, but just the general LGBT movement, small “m,” with no quotation marks, in its entirety, in all of its forms and manifestations, on a global level?

Or am I missing something, and they mean something or someone more specific?

Georgy Urushadze

Founder of the publishing company Freedom Letters

So you’re telling me that the Taliban can’t be declared extremist, but an entire human rights movement can? [...]

We’ll show them our flag. Along with our middle fingers.

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