LGBTQ+ Rights in Russia

From Discrimination to Extremism: LGBTQ+ Rights Under Threat in Russia


The LGBTQ+ community, a global family of individuals who believe in the beauty and validity of love in all its forms, has recently been confronted with profound challenges that have sent shockwaves through human rights circles worldwide. In Russia, the bonds of the LGBTQ+ community have been tested, as their very existence has been labeled as “extremist.” This ruling isn’t just a legal setback; it’s a devastating blow that threatens the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ+ people across the country. But beyond the legal implications, it speaks to a deeper struggle for democracy and human rights. Let’s take a closer look at how this decision impacts the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals in Russia, highlighting the personal stories and struggles of those caught in the crossfire of discrimination and prejudice as they strive for equality and recognition in society. 

Historical Context 

The intertwining of Russia’s complex history regarding LGBTQ+ rights with cultural, political, or religious issues has been characterized by a long period of dispute across eras. Throughout time, individuals that are of the LGBTQ+ community have been marginalized and discriminated against based on what is contained in laws or social norms which are themselves products of conservative stances on sex and gender. This has led to some enactment such as the 2013 gay propaganda law which among others was influenced by the Orthodox Church in Russia. The law banned LGBTQ+ resources from being disseminated to minors, thus excluding the possibility of queer youth from accessing affirming information. Because of this move, the community has been the most likely targets in the Russian society. 

Legal Implications 

The ruling by the Supreme Court that paints the LGBTQ+ movement as extremist carries numerous legal implications. Those involved in LGBTQ+ campaigns may be incarcerated for five years, on the other hand, charges under different sections of the Penal Code could land activists or the people invested in this in jail for up to ten years. So basically, being branded as an extremist means no LGBTQ+ banners can be displayed because one will either be locked up by police officers or prosecuted. These legalities blow a hole in LGBTQ+ persons’ enjoyment of their basic rights and freedom. 

Enforcement Actions 

After the court ruling that named the movements for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as extremist, the police in Russia have started intensively suppressing activism and the people who are visibly connected with it or support it. Current statistics show that not only do the police break into clubs but also people get caught for just being there. Activist reports say that victims of such events have faced oppressive and intimidating methods. During these persecutions, law enforcement officers do not forget how to check any boxes; if anything – these results in numerous arrests based on nothing else but their choice of sexual orientation. LGBTQ+ individuals are further subjected to humiliation through the application of police brutality, coercion and abusive language.  

In one of the famous cases, the law enforcement in Moscow carried out a series of well-coordinated raids of LGBTQ+ locations and events. In these events, people were forcefully ejected, and some others were arrested based on accusations of engaging in “extremism”. By using such modus operandi, authorities do not only violate the rights of such people but also attack against freedom of association as well as speech. 

The increased scrutiny, on places supporting the LGBTQ+ community has led groups to operate in secret causing individuals to miss out on public support and help. LGBTQ+ advocates and organizations are now facing a situation of having to manage their efforts while dealing with the ongoing risk of being targeted and harassed by those in power. The targeting of LGBTQ+ venues and events has instilled a sense of fear and caution, within the community leading many to hesitate in expressing their identity or engaging in LGBTQ+ related activities. There is an environment of apprehension and insecurity. Doubt impedes the access of LGBTQ+ individuals to support systems and services adding to the challenges faced by this already marginalized group. 

Apart from direct enforcement measures the recent decision by the Supreme Court has encouraged groups and anti LGBTQ+ extremists who view it as a spark to target LGBTQ+ individuals without consequences. Incidents of violence and harassment, against members of the LGBTQ+ community have surged following the ruling intensifying the atmosphere of fear and instability among them. 

International Response 

Laws directed at the LGBTQ+ community in Russia have attracted global condemnation for running contrary to basic human rights principles and prevalent global standards. Mentioned actions have led to questions by some non-governmental organizations and other states over the suppression of freedom of speech in the country and an appeal made unto the authorities to observe LGBTQ+ rights. Such criticisms are often dismissed by the Russian government as interference in its internal affairs, thus further straining relations with the international community. 

Advocating for Human Rights  

The core subject revolves around the basic tenet of human rights which includes the entitlement to non-discrimination and persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Just like any other person, queer and trans individuals are entitled to express themselves and lead their lives in truth without being intimidated. Suffocation of queer and trans movements contravenes not only these fundamental rights but also propagates dangerous stereotypes and biases. With their fundamental rights of expression and dignity stripped away, these individuals face socio-political medico-legal and psychological setbacks. Society can truly progress when space is made for all marginalized groups. The creation of a fairer and more just world for people, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity, needs societies to acknowledge the significance of acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion. 


The Supreme Court’s decree branding the LGBTQ+ community as extremist is a major pitfall for LGBTQ+ rights in Russia. This ruling has legal and enforcement implications that discredit basic human rights values and maintain a negative attitude towards LGBTQ+ persons. It is important that the whole world rally round Russia’s queer and trans community and human rights defenders as they appeal for their rights in the country. Promoting acceptance, tolerance, and understanding leads to a world where everybody can be themselves without fearing discrimination. Only then can human civilization truly progress. 

-Written by Akanksha Singh

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