UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk condemned on Thursday the Russian Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw the LGBTQ+ movement in the country and label proponents of the movement “extremists” under new legislation. The court’s decision is the most recent development in Russia’s ongoing crackdown against LGBTQ+ people within the country.The Russian Supreme Court agreed, following a closed-door hearing, with the government’s request to declare the “international LGBT movement” as an extremist organization. In doing so, the court recognized that they were effectively banning LGBTQ+ activities within the country. This is because, in Russia, participating in extremist organizations can lead to a hefty prison sentence if charged and found guilty, with a maximum prison sentence of twelve years.Since no specific organization was identified in the lawsuit, it is unclear how broadly Russian authorities will apply the court’s decision.Several Russian human rights groups objected to the government’s request, but they were not present during the more than four-hour-long closed-door meeting at the court. The groups pushed back against the government’s claims that LGBTQ+ movement demonstrates signs of extremism, like incitement of social and religious hatred. The groups claimed that, if the court were to label the movement as extremist, it would violate several human rights and discriminate against those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community.The Russian Supreme Court’s decision comes at a time where hostility against LGBTQ+ groups is at an all time high. In 2020, the Russian Constitution was amended to specify that marriage in Russia could only exist between a man and a woman, according to Article 1 of its Family Code.This past year, Russia’s government has dealt further blows against the LGBTQ+ community, including a new law that prohibits gender reassignment and healthcare for transgender individuals. When announcing the passing of the legislation, the Russian Duma’s deputy chair Pyotr Tolstoy claimed that the aim of the law was to protect national interests and Russian citizens from “perversions.” Russia’s crackdown on its LGBTQ+ community has also included an expansion of the country’s “gay propaganda law,” which was originally passed in 2013. The most recent amendments from 2022 banned the “rejection of family values,” irrespective of age.The court ordered that their decision to label LGBTQ+ organizations as “extremist” should come into effect immediately, despite growing international calls to reverse course.

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