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HomeNewsRussia Asks Courtroom to Label Homosexual Rights Motion as ‘Extremist’

Russia Asks Courtroom to Label Homosexual Rights Motion as ‘Extremist’

Lately, L.G.B.T.Q. individuals in Russia have lived underneath rising worry because the Kremlin has ratcheted up measures curbing homosexual and transgender rights in tandem with the repressive seek for “inner enemies” throughout the conflict in Ukraine.

Within the newest menace, the Ministry of Justice will search a court docket order on Thursday to declare the worldwide homosexual rights motion an “extremist group.”

Homosexual rights activists and different specialists say {that a} ruling in favor would put homosexual individuals and their organizations underneath the specter of being criminally prosecuted at any time for one thing so simple as displaying the rainbow flag or for endorsing the assertion “Homosexual rights are human rights.”

That prospect has heightened angst and alarm within the nation’s already beleaguered homosexual communities.

“It’s not the primary time we’re being focused, however on the identical time, it’s one other blow,” mentioned Alexander Kondakov, a Russian sociologist at College Faculty Dublin, who research the intersection of regulation and safety for the L.G.B.T.Q. communities. “You might be already marked as international, as unhealthy, as a supply of propaganda, and now you might be labeled an extremist — and the subsequent step is terrorist.”

President Vladimir V. Putin has sought to painting the troubled, protracted conflict that he began as a battle to take care of “Russian conventional values.” To that finish, the homosexual communities are sometimes portrayed as a possible Computer virus for the Wes. And the court docket case comes months earlier than Mr. Putin is anticipated to make use of what he calls his protection of Russian values as a pillar of his marketing campaign within the March 2024 presidential elections.

The federal government, which filed a lawsuit on Nov. 17 with the Supreme Courtroom searching for to label the homosexual rights motion as extremist, is prone to prevail.

Whereas a court docket ruling in favor of the measure wouldn’t criminalize homosexuality and would most certainly not have an effect on day by day life for homosexual and transgender individuals, specialists mentioned, it could make the work of all L.G.B.T.Q. organizations, in addition to any political exercise, untenable.

It could possibly be used to mete out jail sentences of six to 10 years to homosexual rights activists, their legal professionals or others concerned in any sort of public effort.

The requested designation can also be written in a sometimes ambiguous method, so it could possibly be exploited by just about anybody to denounce a homosexual individual as an extremist, equivalent to a provincial regulation enforcement officer hostile towards homosexual individuals or neighbors who covet a homosexual couple’s condo, specialists mentioned.

Till it turns into clearer how the measure can be carried out, it’s troublesome to advise homosexual individuals in Russia about altering their lives, mentioned Igor Kochetkov, a founding father of the Russian LGBT Community, an umbrella group.

Critics say it’s uncommon to make use of a designation meant to focus on particular organizations in opposition to one thing extra amorphous like a world motion. There are a pair precedents, nonetheless, particularly two home campaigns seen as encouraging youth violence.

As well as, the Kremlin has more and more slapped the “extremist” label on organizations that it doesn’t like. They embody the opposition group organized by Aleksei A. Navalny; the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose presence in Russia is opposed by the Russian Orthodox Church; and Meta, the mother or father firm of Fb and Instagram, which the Russian authorities has accused of spreading Russophobia.

In Russia, measures focusing on L.G.B.T.Q. teams began in earnest after 2012, when Mr. Putin returned to the presidency. In 2013, Russia handed a regulation banning “homosexual propaganda” directed towards minors and expanded that in 2022 to ban something that, it mentioned, smacked of endorsing “nontraditional relationships and pedophilia” amongst all Russians.

Final summer time, the authorities started issuing fines for what they deemed to be such propaganda in movies and tv sequence on-line. Then, in July, Mr. Putin signed a regulation banning medical gender transitions or altering genders on official paperwork.

There’s a lengthy custom of countries at conflict singling out minority teams, particularly homosexual individuals, for prosecution, equivalent to Nazi Germany. The hassle to construct help for the conflict inevitably entails figuring out exterior and inner enemies, and in Russia the widely unfavourable angle towards homosexual individuals dovetails with this effort, mentioned Alexandra Arkhipova, a social anthropologist who research the ripple results of the conflict on Russian society.

A 2016 examine confirmed {that a} majority of Russians “take into consideration gay minorities as a type of illness introduced by the collective West,” she mentioned.

This angle is very prevalent amongst Russians older than 65, who’re additionally Mr. Putin’s core supporters. They determine along with his promise to return to the Russia of 1970, when the thought of homosexual rights and fluid sexuality didn’t exist publicly, she mentioned.

Some Russians applauded the most recent transfer.

“Rainbow days are coming to an finish,” crowed one commenter on a channel on a Telegram messaging app, Operation Z, a reference to the conflict in Ukraine. It was accompanied by an emoji of clapping fingers.

Regardless of all of the measures, Russia has maintained that it doesn’t goal its homosexual minority. In latest weeks, Mr. Putin has mentioned at a cultural discussion board in St. Petersburg that homosexual and transgender individuals have been “a part of society,” whereas mocking what he known as a pattern within the West to confer public prizes solely on those that have fun the homosexual neighborhood.

Days earlier than saying the lawsuit, a deputy minister of justice, Andrei Loginov, testified earlier than the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva that, in Russia, “the rights of L.G.B.T. individuals are protected,” saying that “restraining public demonstrations of nontraditional sexual relations or preferences is just not a type a censure for them.”

The proposed designation opens the door to the sort of authorized and verbal gymnastics that the Kremlin typically makes use of to disclaim that it’s prosecuting a sexual minority group, Ms. Arkhipova mentioned. “They will say to everyone: We’re not prosecuting gay individuals; gay individuals are nice — we’re simply prosecuting extremists,” she mentioned.

Milana Mazaeva contributed reporting.



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