Undermining Human Rights at the United Nations - The Case of Russia

International Best Practice Guide To Equality On Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity
Email commsteam@outrightinternational.org to download the full report

The human rights of LGBTIQ people have increasingly been recognized as such by international human rights organizations such as the United Nations or the Council of Europe, with growing documentation, guidance and specific mention of sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination or violence. Around the world colonial-era laws criminalizing same-sex relations have been falling, while the number of countries recognizing same-sex partnership have been increasing. At the same time, over the last decade, news of severe backlash and increasing restriction on LGBTIQ people have also increased. Many of them relating to the lives of LGBTIQ people in the Russian Federation.

It is well documented that LGBTIQ people in Russia face numerous obstacles, ranging from pervasively negative societal attitudes to restrictive legislation. But in addition to restricting LGBTIQ rights at home, Russia has also been an increasingly stark opponent of progress in the recognition and protection of the human rights of LGBTIQ people in the international arena under the guise of protecting “traditional values”.

OutRight Action International produced this paper on Russia, which was made possible with support from the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, to address an important gap in existing UN-oriented opposition research and provide a strong evidence base to serve as a resource for liberal civil society and UN member States for their lobby and advocacy efforts. The paper will analyze Russia’s arguments, in multilateral processes, in their attacks on the integrity of the international human rights system, and on human rights as applied to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics.

Following a brief overview of the situation for LGBTIQ people in Russia, the paper explores the tactics used by Russia to oppose recognition of the human rights of LGBTIQ people within the international human rights system. Specifically:

  • The ideological and human rights law based arguments used by the government of Russia in statements, discussions and other avenues of the UN;
  • The use of spheres of influence of Russia in the former Soviet Union, and more recently established alliances including the Africa Group, the Arab Group and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to further Russia's goals;
  • The use of Non-State actors, such as the Russian Orthodox Church, Fundamentalist Civil Society Organizations including the World Congress of Families and C-Fam.

Email commsteam@outrightinternational.org to download the full report.