Russia: Supreme Court's 'extremist' label for LGBTQ+ groups condemned

Ruling recognises as ‘extremist’ an undefined ‘international public LGBT movement’

‘Participants’ could be jailed for five years, and ‘organisers’ and donors of LGBTQ+ groups face possible ten-year prison sentences 

Ruling denounced as ‘shameful and absurd’, and likely to have ‘catastrophic’ consequences for many people in Russia

‘There is little if any doubt that it will lead to the persecution of LGBTQ+ activists’ - Marie Struthers

In response to a ruling today by Russia’s Supreme Court which designates the “international public LGBT movement” extremist and effectively outlaws any public activity related to LGBTQ+ issues, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said: 

“This shameful and absurd decision represents a new front in the Russian authorities’ campaign against the LGBTQ+ community.

“The ruling risks resulting in a blanket ban on LGBTQ+ organisations, with far-reaching violations of the rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly, as well as the right to be free from discrimination. 

“It will affect countless people, and its repercussions are poised to be nothing short of catastrophic.

“There is little if any doubt that it will lead to the persecution of LGBTQ+ activists, undoing decades of their brave and dedicated work, while threatening to inspire and legitimise whole new levels of violence against LGBTQ+ people across Russia. 

“We call on the Russian authorities to review this ruling immediately. 

“The international community must stand in solidarity with the Russian LGBTQ+ community, demanding an end to these oppressive actions and safeguarding the principles of equality, freedom and justice for all.” 

Serious legal consequences 

The Supreme Court’s ruling recognises as “extremist” an undefined “international public LGBT movement”. This phrase, as used by the Russian Ministry of Justice, appears to target not an established, clearly-defined group or initiative, but any activism in defence of the human rights of LGBTQ+ people or even any public association with the LGBTQ+ community. 

The “extremist” designation comes with serious legal consequences for those involved in LGBTQ+ activities, and even for people with a known, or assumed, association with the LGBTQ+ community. Its “participants” may face up to five years in prison and its “organisers” and donors up to ten years, under Articles 282.2(2), 282.2(1) and 282.3 of the Criminal Code respectively. Being designated “extremist” also entails a ban on an organisation’s symbols, and displaying these symbols can lead to so-called administrative arrest of up to 15 days under Article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences, with a repeat “offence” becoming a crime under Article 282.4 of the Criminal Code, carrying with it a maximum penalty of four years’ imprisonment. Those facing investigation or prosecution for being involved in “extremist” activities typically have their bank accounts blocked, and face employment restrictions and restriction of other rights, including being banned for various periods of time from standing in elections at all levels. 

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