Rights groups are up in arms about the Russian Supreme Court’s decision to label LGBT organizations as extremists. New legislation to ban activity of the groups passed the Duma on November 30.
“I call on the Russian authorities to repeal, immediately, laws that place improper restrictions on the work of human rights defenders or that discriminate against LGBT people,” says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk. ”The law must never be used to perpetuate inequality and discrimination.”
The high commissioner’s former subordinate Craig Mokhiber, in his resignation letter to Turk over the UN’s inaction in Gaza last month, said the UN must abandon the “subjugation of international law to the dictates of presumed political expediency.”
With the UN now calling for a release of all Israeli hostages and no mention of Palestinian prisoners, Mokhiber’s suggestion doesn’t seem forthcoming.
Although the UN held a vigil for 101 members killed in Gaza on November 13, they stopped short of calling on Israeli authorities to “immediately” stop killing civilians, but instead issued a “strong condemnation.”
Human Rights Watch couched their comments about the Russian decision in harsher terms than the UN. “The assault on LGBT rights has become a symbol of Russia’s rejection of universal human rights, as the government positions Russia as the defender of so-called traditional values in opposition to ‘the collective West,’” said Tanya Lokshina, the organization’s associate Europe and Central Asia director.
“The legislation does not provide any exclusion for art, scientific studies, or education and perpetuates a false and damaging messaging that tries to link LGBT people with pedophiles,” she continued.
Russia also outlawed LGBT propaganda in 2022, according to Tass, with a separate provision to ban “the dissemination of such information among minors… [and] to establish a mechanism to deny access to LBGT-related information on paid sites for minors.”
In Russia, “homophobic groups have used the adoption of ‘anti-gay propaganda laws’ at regional and federal levels as justification for perpetrating acts of violence,” according to research by the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.
“In particular, the homophobic group Occupy Pedophilia, which by 2014 had approximately forty branches across Russia, is known for finding LGBTIQ Russians on the Internet and luring them to meet under the pretense of a date, then recording the humiliation and beating of these individuals for later posting online,” the paper mentions.
“In response to escalating persecution (e.g., in Chechnya), many LGBTIQ organizations have been forced to shut down, limit their online presence, or practice self-censorship,” the research notes, “Anxiety over personal safety has resulted in LGBTIQ people remaining quiet.”
North Africa, gulf countries and China also limit or prohibit “discussing, promoting, or teaching LGBT topics in media, schools, and the general public,” according to ourworldindata.org. Why the UN has chastised Russia and not Saudi Arabia is unclear.