Metro Weekly

Russia might brand LGBTQ organizations as “extremist” in order to ban them

Russia's media regulator wants to "untie" the hands of police to target LGBTQ groups

russia, lgbtq, extremist, extremism
An LGBTQ protest in St. Petersburg protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Photo: InkBoB, via Wikimedia.

Russia might rebrand LGBTQ organizations as “extremist” groups in order to ban them.

LGBTQ groups, as well as radical feminist and child-free groups, would be considered “extremism,” under a new proposal from Russia’s communications regulator, the Moscow Times reports.

Andrei Tsyganov, chairman of a regulatory commission that purports to protect children, said last week that it was “necessary to expand” the rights of law enforcement in order to target the groups.

Alongside LGBTQ groups, Tsyagnov also highlighted “furries” — those interested in anthropomorphic animal characters — as an “extremist ideology.”

“LGBT ideology, radical feminism, all these furries, child-free — they, of course, must be recognized at least as extremism, extremist ideology,” Tsyganov said, “in order to untie the hands of our law enforcers.”

The rebranding would allow regulators to “protect” children in Russia from seeing “destructive” LGBTQ content on social media and the wider internet, the Times reports.

In practice, it would allow Russia to treat LGBTQ groups like neo-Nazi organizations and those considered opponents of the government or enemies of the state.

In 2017, Russia rebranded Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremist,” and has since charged more than 400 people for practicing the Christian denomination, PinkNews reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has repeatedly targeted LGBTQ people, most prominently with 2013’s ban on so-called “gay propaganda.”

The heavily criticized law outlawed depictions of “nontraditional relationships” in order to protect minors from being exposed to anything that undermines “traditional family values.”

It has been used by the government to try and remove a gay couple’s children, ban Pride marches, arrest a teenager who shared photos of half-naked men, and delete gay scenes from Elton John biopic Rocketman.

Last year, Russian voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That vote came after a poll found that 1 in 5 Russians believed that LGBTQ people should be “eliminated” from society.

Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda” has been internationally condemned for discriminating against LGBTQ people. The European Court of Human Rights has twice ruled that Russia’s propaganda ban violates the rights of LGBTQ people and LGBTQ organizations.

In 2019, the ECHR ordered the Russian government to pay damages to three LGBTQ groups, after they were denied permission to register as associations because of the anti-gay “propaganda” law.

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