Russia makes supporting LGBT a crime

The Russian judiciary has classified as extremist and banned what it calls an "international LGBT movement". This means that people can now be charged with supporting LGBT causes and sentenced to prison. In St. Petersburg on Friday, the TV music channel Aiva was fined around 5,000 euros for depicting same-sex love. What comes next?

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Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Just don't stand out

Radio Kommersant FM attempts, not without irony, to distinguish between what is legal and what is not:

“It is forbidden to join this international movement: 'Look what kind of person I am, come with me, you won't regret it'. ... Otherwise, you're allowed to do anything here, even that kind of thing. But quietly: don't advertise it, and above all, avoid standing out. You mustn't swim against the tide, you have to be like everyone else, without seeking attention. If you follow these simple rules, everything will be fine and you can even have a decent political career. Who has no weaknesses? Our state judges fairly. But this is all just speculation, free interpretations. There are still no legal explanations.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Specialists may hit the road

The Kremlin's strategy could backfire, writes Der Standard:

“The Kremlin wants Russia to become a kind of Soviet Union 2.0. The new Russian man is to be just like the old one. Strong as a bear, he defends his family and his fatherland. And the new Russian woman is also like the old one: loving, and mother to many children. Homosexual relationships have no place in this role model. But it is questionable whether this will work in Russian society, which is also a modern society. ... Many things still work precisely in everyday life in Russia. Trains are on time to the minute. Smoothly-functioning apps make shopping convenient. Conceived by specialists. Specialists who may soon be working elsewhere in the world.”

Echo (RU) /

Apartheid and racist laws à la russe

In a Telegram post picked up by Echo, Kirill Martynov, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta Europe, describes the decision as a fatal attack on civil rights:

“On 30 November 2023, the idea of restricting citizens' rights just because of who they are was incorporated into the legal model of the Russian Federation. Now you no longer even have to be involved in a political movement or be a member of an organisation for the state to ostracise you. If gays are a priori members of an extremist movement, any other group of people can be declared extremists too. Like the apartheid regime in South Africa and the Nazi Nuremberg laws, the Supreme Court's decision takes away people's rights simply because they exist.”

Stanislav Kucher (RU) /

Symptom of a terminally ill regime

Journalist Stanislav Kucher sees the move as a sign of weakness. He comments on Facebook:

“The ban on the 'LGBT movement' (which legally speaking doesn't even exist) is a blow to the safety of certain people who already have a hard time in Russia. Of course, this is a terrible hypocrisy - especially given the pardoning of murderers and psychopaths in return for their participating in aggression against a neighbouring country. But it is also a phenomenal act of self-exposure and degradation - and not the strengthening of a flawed system that many fear it could be. Historians will examine this step as one of the signs and catalysts for the inevitable end of such regimes.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Anyone can be targeted

La Stampa fears a witch hunt:

“Not even countries like Iran or Uganda, where 'aggravated homosexuality' is punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty, have come up with the Kremlin's idea of potentially criminalising anyone who is not explicitly homophobic. The decision to categorise the LGBT movement as 'extremist' doesn't just affect homosexuals. Activists, journalists, sympathisers, lawyers - charges can be brought against anyone who wears a rainbow pin or raises their voice in defence of queer people. Rumours are already circulating in Moscow about lists of prominent homosexuals and activists against whom arrest warrants are to be issued.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

In search of the enemy within

This is a purely diversionary tactic, Gazeta Wyborcza is convinced:

“Why have the Russian authorities started to actively crack down on LGBTQ people? According to Russian human rights activists, the reason is obvious: the Kremlin is trying to mobilise society against an 'internal enemy' and thereby distract Russians from the war in Ukraine.”