The Russian Supreme Court has declared that the LGBT movement is extremist and banned its activities within the country’s borders.
In a statement, the court said it had decided to “satisfy the lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice on the recognition of the LGBT movement as extremist and to ban its activities on the territory of the Russian Federation.”
It added that the decision would come into effect immediately.
The hearing was held behind closed doors and it took the court some four hours to study the evidence presented by the Justice Ministry, including classified documents.
No representatives defending the movement appeared during the hearing.
The Justice Ministry filed its request on Nov. 17 for the top court to ban the movement’s activities and recognise it as “extremist.”
It said various signs and manifestations of extremist orientation had been revealed in its activities, including the incitement of social and religious discord.
Under Russian criminal law, participating in or financing an extremist organisation is punishable by up to 12 years in prison. A person found guilty of displaying such groups’ symbols faces up to 15 days in detention for the first offence and up to four years in prison for a repeat offence.
The authorities may include individuals suspected of involvement with an extremist organisation in the countrywide “list of extremists” and freeze their bank accounts. People deemed to be involved with an extremist organisation are barred from running for public office.
Western human rights groups have condemned the move.
“The authorities’ move apparently serves a dual purpose,” said Tanya Lokshina, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It is meant to increase the scapegoating of LGBT people to appeal to the Kremlin’s conservative supporters before the March 2024 presidential vote and to paralyze the work of rights groups countering discrimination and supporting LGBT people.”