By: Isuru Parakrama
January 18, World (LNW): In the wake of Russia’s recent decision to brand the “international LGBT public movement” as extremist, the LGBTQIA+ community is experiencing heightened persecution, with targeted police raids on queer-friendly venues and a surge in appeals for relocation assistance, international reports disclosed.
Masked police raids targeted LGBTQIA+ venues in Moscow shortly after the country’s top court labelled the “international LGBT public movement” as extremist, according to international correspondents.
At least three queer-friendly venues in Moscow were raided within 48 hours of the extremist label, indicating an immediate crackdown on queer and queer-friendly spaces.
The Kremlin, equating anti-LGBTQIA+ measures with its broader agenda against “western liberal values,” has intensified its anti-gay rhetoric, linking LGBTQIA+ expression with the justification for the war in Ukraine.
Russian President Putin’s push for “traditional values” resulted in the banning of the so-called “LGBT propaganda” among adults last year, leading to the removal of LGBTQIA+ content from bookstores and cinemas.
The extremist label enables authorities to target any individual or organisation deemed part of the “international LGBT public movement,” fostering an environment of utmost fear and oppression.
Prominent LGBTQIA+ activists, such as Gena Marvin and Karen Shainyan, have left Russia due to safety concerns, and LGBTQIA+ relocation assistance organisations report a significant hike in requests.
LGBTQIA+ refugees face challenges in the asylum process, with mental health struggles exacerbated by lengthy procedures, harsh living conditions, and the oppressive situation back in Russia.
While some LGBTQIA+ individuals choose to leave the country, many feel compelled to stay and navigate the growing hostility, opting for secrecy to avoid repercussions.
The extremist label has accelerated the marginalisation of Russia’s queer community, now creating a state-sanctioned hostile atmosphere that threatens the mental well-being and safety of queer individuals.
Photo: CNN (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters/File)