On Thursday, Russia’s Supreme Court declared that the greater international gay rights movement has an “extremist organization,” further banning “its activities on the territory of Russia” and opening up wider criminal punishment for activism in the country.
The Supreme Court made the ruling off a lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Justice, who said that the LGBTQ movement exhibited “various signs and manifestations of an extremist orientation, including incitement of social and religious hatred.”
While vague, the ruling and designation places the LGBTQ movement among the likes of Islamic Jihadists under Russian law, where participation, financing, and or support of said group can result in punishments up to 15 years in prison.
The ruling comes as Russia toughened its ban and censorship on what it calls “gay propaganda” in 2022, where it prohibited any public information on the LGBTQ movement, which it calls “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations and/or preferences, pedophilia, and sex change.”
The Russian government has long viewed the LGBTQ movement as a threat to traditional Russian values and has largely framed its oppositions as one against the ideology of the collective West.
This will likely be used to bolster support for Putin ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Since the start of the invasion, President Putin has also framed the war in Ukraine as the defense of Russian way of life against Western influences.
The decision has been condemned by international and LGBTQ rights groups.