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Russian Supreme Court judge Oleg Nefedov reads the decision designating the “LGBT movement” an “extremist organization.” November 30, 2023.

‘The Kremlin outlawed several million people’ Politicians, journalists, and human rights activists weigh in on Russia’s decision to ban the ‘LGBT movement’

Source: Meduza
Russian Supreme Court judge Oleg Nefedov reads the decision designating the “LGBT movement” an “extremist organization.” November 30, 2023.
Russian Supreme Court judge Oleg Nefedov reads the decision designating the “LGBT movement” an “extremist organization.” November 30, 2023.
Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP / Scanpix / LETA

On November 30, Russia’s Supreme Court banned the “international LGBT movement,” and designated it as an “extremist organization.” The hearing took place behind closed doors over a period of four hours and the only people in attendance were representatives from Russia’s Justice Ministry, who wore medical masks to hide their face. Lawyers from the human rights group Department One said that the ban will come into force on January 10, 2024. Meduza has compiled reactions from politicians, journalists, and human rights activists on the Supreme Court’s decision. Here’s what they had to say.

Marie Struthers

Amnesty International's Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

This shameful and absurd decision represents a new front in the Russian authorities’ campaign against the LGBTI community. The ruling risks resulting in a blanket ban on LGBTI organizations with far reaching violations of the rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly, as well as the right to be free from discrimination. It will affect countless people, and its repercussions are poised to be nothing short of catastrophic.

There is little if any doubt that it will lead to the persecution of LGBTI activists, undoing decades of their brave and dedicated work, while threatening to inspire and legitimize whole new levels of violence against LGBTI persons across Russia.

We call on the Russian authorities to immediately review this ruling. The international community must stand in solidarity with the Russian LGBTI community, demanding an end to these oppressive actions and safeguarding the principles of equality, freedom, and justice for all.

Ksenia Sobchak

Russian socialite and media personality

This is the most repressive and cruel law in recent years. Even the “foreign agent” status is just a kind, fatherly suggestion compared to this. It’s madness.

You come out — you’re sent to the mines. You live with a partner of the same sex — off to the mines. You listen to the band Tattoo — to the mines. You write an extremist prefix in front of the words “community” or “people” — to the mines. 

Expect even more emigrants, dear country. And banning abortion won’t help to promote having more children, that’s not how you increase the population. You want to have a lot of children in a free country where you’re accepted. People will flee from a country where they will consider you a psychopathic criminal because of your orientation. 

My support to the entire **** community. I’m struggling to find words of encouragement. Maybe one day this will all be over. Maybe.

Tikhon Dzyadko

Editor-in-Chief of TV Rain

This means that with the stroke of a pen, in favor of cheap political points, the Kremlin has outlawed several million people and declared them criminals. It’s terrible.

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The LGBT+ Group Coming Out

An organization helping LGBTQ+ people

Today’s court decision represents yet another stage of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in Russia, this time under the guise of fighting extremism. It’s a purely political decision to declare a non-existent organization extremist, with no legal basis. That’s why it creates legal uncertainty as to whether the activities of any LGBTQ+ organization are now extremist. To an even greater extent, it’s designed to create a climate of fear and uncertainty for LGBTQ+ people and thereby send a message to society that things aren’t yet that bad for the cis-heterosexual community, but it could get worse. 

Today’s decision will result in LGBTQ+ people facing even more discrimination and violence, and getting help in these situations will become even harder, since it makes it more difficult for LGBTQ+ nonprofits to operate and puts LGBTQ+ activists, or those who don’t support discriminatory practices, at direct risk of criminal prosecution. 

Regardless of how the extremism law will be applied in practice after today’s court ruling, Coming Out will continue its work in Russia to support LGBTQ+ individuals, especially since this is needed more and more with each passing day.

Marina Ovsyannikova

Former editor at Channel One Russia

They’re the extremists.

All citizens of Russia, no matter their race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, place of residence, social status, religious or political beliefs, have equal rights. Violating this principle is called discrimination…

Ivan Zhdanov

Director of Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation

Designating “LGBT” as an extremist movement is the beginning of Putin’s election campaign. It’s not just an alarm bell. More than that, it’s his explicit platform for the new term: a step toward complete Iranization [and] isolation of Russia. 

It will be a complete distraction from real problems, the creation of mythical enemies, discrimination against the population on various grounds, this is just the beginning. 

Vakhtang Kipshidze

Deputy chairman of the Synodal Department of the Moscow Patriarchate for Church Relations with Society and Mass Media

It [“the LGBT movement”] has signs of extremism, since the logical conclusion of its activities result in the destruction of the traditional concept of marriage and family.

Crisis Group SK SOS

An organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ people facing persecution in the North Caucasus

Due to the secrecy of the meeting, it remains unclear who will be affected by the initiative. Separate details will be known only after the announcement’s potential publication by the Justice Ministry or the Supreme Court, or even after the first cases for LGBT extremism appear.

The work of the SK SOS Crisis Group won’t stop. Despite the increased risks, we’ll continue to help people in mortal danger in the North Caucasus.

Yevgeny Popov

Propagandist, deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy

If we want to protect ourselves from drag queen shows in daycare centers, I’m all for it. If we want to protect children from changing their sex without their parents being notified, I’m all for it. But basically there are different people out there. We have a free country; please express your opinion, but forcing someone to be gay or lesbian, promoting it, is also unacceptable. We have to sort it out. Cutting out gay scenes from masterpieces, I don’t know… Although we also have excess on the other side.

The state has no business in the bedroom, but on the other hand, of course, we have to protect society from all sorts of monstrous projects and the realities of modern times, such as drag queens and gender reassignment without parental notification. But we need to understand what it [the ban] was and why it [the hearing] was secret. Of course, since the Justice Ministry filed this lawsuit and the court approved it, there should be a full explanation.

Pyotr Tolstoy

Deputy chairman of Russia’s State Duma

LGBT are not some unfortunate gay or lesbian people that we are told Russia has decided to fight. It’s actually a well-organized and well-planned project to undermine traditional societies from within. Sodomy is a sin and the exact opposite of traditional values. And sodomy in pretty packaging is an attractive product designed to accomplish this. That’s the goal. Everything else is just a cover.

Of course, the law adopted last year banning LGBT propaganda has cut off many tentacles of this monster. Though it is not the tentacles that need to be destroyed, but the entire monster.

More on the Supreme Court’s ruling

Russia has banned the so-called ‘international LGBT movement’ What does this mean for queer people and activists living there?

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Translation by Sasha Slobodov

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