August 15, 2023

Russia's Anti LGBT+ War

Russia's Anti LGBT+ War
Elena Smykova

Ten years ago this summer a packet of amendments “Concerning Propaganda of Non-Traditional Sexual Relations among Minors” was passed, and the rights of queer people have been deteriorating ever since, with state-controlled media harping on the subject of “non-traditional orientations.” This anti-queer campaign was intensified after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, when a new law prohibited all so-called “LGBT propaganda.” In essence, the law proclaims queer people to be personae non gratae, and some members of the community have called it a “total ban.”

According to Dilya Gafurova, head of Sphere, a charitable foundation that supports LGBT+ people, the fomenting of hatred toward the community is designed to “shift attention” away from Russia’s more serious problems. In other words, it is a way of redirecting growing dissatisfaction away from the government and toward a vulnerable social group. “Furthermore, the state is attempting to cast its decisions as part of a confrontation with the West, and anti-LBGT legislation as a way of saying that our values are different, and we are protecting our people from negative Western values. But the problem is that these are not values – this is about an entire social group that has existed, exists, and will exist regardless of whatever regime we have and whatever rhetoric it uses.”

Despite the difficulties they face, organizations supporting LGBT people are still in operation. Sphere, which even before February 2022 had been suffering harassment and inspections, was officially shut down after the invasion. Even though it has lost its legal status, the organization continues to function.

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