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RUSSIA’S Supreme Court effectively outlawed LGBT activism today, after the Justice Ministry had accused campaigners for gay, lesbian and transgender rights of extremism.
In a statement announcing a lawsuit filed with the court earlier this month, the ministry claimed that authorities had identified “signs and manifestations of an extremist nature” by an LGBT “movement” operating in Russia, including “incitement of social and religious discord,” although it offered no details or evidence.
The court declared the “movement” to be extremist in today’s ruling and banned it in Russia.
The hearing took place behind closed doors and with no defendant. Rights activists have pointed out that the lawsuit targeted the “international civic LGBT movement,” which is not an entity but 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’ — 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,” human rights lawyer Max Olenichev, who works with the Russian LGBT community, said ahead of the hearing.
Some LGBT activists sought to become a party to the lawsuit, arguing that it concerned their rights, but their application was rejected by the court.
The Supreme Court ruling is the latest step in a decade-long crackdown on LGBT rights under President Vladimir Putin, who has put “traditional family values” at the cornerstone of his rule.
Authorities deny discriminating against LGBT people. Earlier this month, Deputy Justice Minister Andrei Loginov asserted that “the rights of LGBT people in Russia are protected” by law.
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