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Press Release

Russian Court, in Violation of International Law, Brands LGBT Movement as Extremist


Publish Date


New York, USA - November 30, 2023 - Outright International strongly condemns Russia’s Supreme Court ruling declaring the “international LGBT movement” as an “extremist organization.” On 17 November 2023, the Russian Ministry of Justice filed a petition to legally recognize the international public LGBT movement as “extreme” and to ban related activities. This move not only poses a grave threat to the safety and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) people in Russia but also flagrantly violates international law and human rights standards.

“This is a big blow for us as a community, and now it looks like any LGBT organization is extremist,” said Moscow Community Centre for LGBT+ Initiatives’ Olga Baranova, who added that the Supreme Court’s actions have raised concerns about its adherence to the law. The trial proceeded without the presence of a defendant, a clear violation of legal principles. The Moscow Community Center for LGBT Initiatives sought to participate in the case as an interested party, but the court rejected its application.

The closed-door court hearing on Thursday, 30th November 2023, is a clear attempt to marginalize further and persecute LGBTIQ activists in Russia. For almost two decades, Russia has been actively leading a multi-faceted attack on LGBTIQ people through the implementation of restrictive laws targeted at queer individuals and a worrisome absence of protective legislation for queer people throughout the nation. The Russian Federation manufactures anti-LGBTIQ rhetoric depicting queer identities as “Western,” “anti-Russian,” and “anti-tradition” in order to delegitimize and stigmatize LGBTIQ people, people who are perceived to be LGBTIQ, and people who are merely associated with LGBTIQ people. 

“LGBTIQ people exist in every country, and a legal ban on the undefined ‘international LGBT movement’ will result in more violence, discrimination, and isolation of LGBTIQ people in Russia, who are already targeted for being who they are,” said Maria Sjödin, Executive Director at Outright International. 

“Russia, which has already restricted access to information about LGBTIQ issues, is yet again violating the human rights of LGBTIQ people by restricting freedoms of association and expression. This is a great concern not just for human rights defenders focused on protecting the rights of LGBTIQ people but for everyone who believes in human rights for all.”

Russia’s anti-LGBTIQ rhetoric echoes through the corridors of its neighbors, such as Hungary and Poland, and extends to Russia’s engagement with countries in Africa, making this case of critical importance to LGBTIQ people across the world. 

“Russia’s claim that it is the LGBT movement that incites social and religious violence is diverting attention from the reality, which is that Russia is creating an environment where sexual and gender minorities face even more exclusion and harassment and where anyone perceived or accused of being associated with the international LGBT movement can become a target of the state,” Sjödin added. 

The Russian government’s action is in direct violation of international human rights law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a signatory. These international instruments guarantee the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and there is no exception for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Russian activists have specifically called for international support for LGBTIQ human rights defenders who face the risk of arrest as a basis of this decision, including by supporting their legal defense and helping those at risk to leave the country.

We urge the Russian government to uphold its international human rights obligations and protect the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Furthermore, we call on governments and civil society around the world to stand in solidarity with LGBTIQ people and human rights defenders in Russia. 

Outright International also calls on the United Nations and other international bodies to closely monitor the situation in Russia and take appropriate action to address these human rights abuses. The targeting of the LGBTIQ community in Russia is not only a domestic issue but a global concern.

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