From being homosexual to “becoming” extremist in Russia

The situation of the LGBTQ+ community in Russia has been a cause for concern due to laws and attitudes that have created a hostile environment for the LGBTQ+ community in the country. In recent days, Russia and its regime have declared LGBTQ+ as an extremist group.

In the latest alarming turn of events, Russia’s Supreme Court has taken a severe stance against the LGBT community. The court’s decision to classify the “international LGBT movement” as extremist has not only triggered legal implications, but has raised concerns about the escalation of threats and violence against this community; and about public activities related to what Russia considers “non-traditional” sexual preferences and classifying them as “extremism”, the offence could carry severe prison sentences.

While the Russian authorities already imposed heavy fines for carrying out “propaganda” deemed to be supportive of the LGBT+ community, this recent move is a worrying shift towards the possibility of imprisonment for such actions.

The situation is particularly alarming in Chechnya, where homosexuals face harrowing persecution, sometimes ending in imprisonment, torture and murder at the hands of “Law enforcement”  Forcing so many people into exile to escape this brutal reality.

The recent measures taken by the Russian Supreme Court escalate the systematic repression and persecution faced by the LGBT community in Russia. This decision casts a shadow over fundamental human rights and raises urgent concerns for the safety and well-being of people from this marginalised community.

As part of a preliminary analysis, in an already difficult context for the community, the following points stand out:

The implementation of anti-LGBTQ+ Laws: In 2013, Russia enacted the law prohibiting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations between minors”. This legislation has been criticised for limiting freedom of expression and contributing to discrimination and persecution of LGBTQ+ people.

General attitudes and discrimination: Although some cities are more tolerant than others, conservative mentalities and homophobic attitudes are common in certain sectors of Russian society. LGBTQ+ people face discrimination, prejudice and even violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Culture and government: Attitudes towards homosexuality in Russia have been influenced by culture and politics. There are conservative groups that promote discrimination and oppose LGBTQ+ rights. In addition, the Russian government has reinforced policies and laws that limit the visibility and rights of this community.

How can homophobic actions be dealt with?

The protection of marginalised groups under certain regimes is a complex and varied issue, as it involves interaction between different actors at national and international level.

Social pressure can raise public awareness of a specific issue, leading to greater visibility of the cause, and while it is certainly a challenging act in the face of authoritarian and repressive regimes, campaigns, protests, social media movements and events can spread information and generate discussions that may have previously been overlooked.

Some communities find creative ways to express their discontent, such as using online platforms, independent media or underground networks to disseminate information and organise protests more discreetly.

Social pressure at the international level can play a crucial role. Global attention through international organisations, international media and public condemnation of authoritarian regimes can exert some influence, whether through sanctions, diplomacy or support for local and international activists.

To make society a safe environment for all, it is sometimes necessary to re-educate some people. The case of homophobia, like any form of discrimination, is the result of a combination of factors that may include cultural, social, religious, educational and individual aspects.

When a significant number of people express their support, additional pressure can be generated. This mobilisation can manifest itself through different actions such as petitions, demonstrations, boycotts or awareness-raising campaigns that seek to stop total disinformation, the creation of unreal information, fake news, destabilisation and fear.

Our LGBTQ+ department within our Gay Lawyers division is always available for any kind of legal consultation, we work closely with other organisations and initiatives that benefit the inclusion and diversity of all in society.

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Cynthia Cortés Castillo, Digital Marketing Executive

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