Nov 30, 2023 - World

Russia's Supreme Court bans LGBTQ activism

An activist waves a damaged rainbow flag during a gay pride in St. Petersburg in 2014. Photo: Olga Maltseva/Getty Images

Russia's Supreme Court on Thursday declared the international LGBTQ rights movement "extremist," effectively outlawing LGBTQ activism, multiple outlets reported.

Why it matters: This is the most drastic move against gay, lesbian and transgender rights in Russia, per the AP. While it remains unclear how the ruling will be enforced, participating in "extremist organizations" is a punishable criminal offense in Russia.

  • "Human rights defenders fear that the ruling will allow the authorities to arbitrarily prosecute anyone for any activities related to LGBT rights," Human Rights Watch wrote.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has made social conservatism a core part of his political appeal, frequently contrasting Russia with more liberal Western countries and targeting gay rights in particular. He previously signed a ban on "LGBT propaganda."

Context: In a lawsuit, Russia's Justice Ministry argued that the LGBTQ movement included extremist signs and manifestations intended to incite "social and religious discord."

  • The hearing occurred in private without a defendant, according to the AP. LGBTQ activists were not allowed by the court to take part in the proceedings.
  • While the "international LGBT movement" was labeled extremist, that movement is not represented by a single organization, effectively leaving it up to authorities as to how to enforce the ban.

State of play: The UN Human Rights Council denounced the Supreme Court's decision.

  • "The law must uphold the principles of equality and non-discrimination," Volker Turk, the UN human rights chief, said in a statement. "It must never be used to perpetuate discrimination."

Go deeper: Putin signs law expanding ban on "LGBT propaganda"

Go deeper