Russian police have launched a series of raids against gay bars and clubs in Moscow after the country’s supreme court banned the LGBTQ movement in Russia, calling it “extremist.”
Cops in the Russian capital targeted gay clubs, a nightclub, a male sauna and other venues Friday after the court’s decision, which effectively banned the LGBTQ community, NBC News reported on Sunday.
The ruling comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the government’s Justice Ministry and is part of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s long-running war against the gay community.
“It will affect countless people, and its repercussions are poised to be nothing short of catastrophic,” Marie Struthers, regional director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International, told The Associated Press of the ruling.
The court’s decision came after a closed-door session on the case that lasted four hours Thursday, with journalists allowed inside the courtroom only for a reading of the ruling by Judge Oleg Nefedov.
Few details of the deliberations by the court — Russia’s highest — were made public, with authorities only disclosing that “signs and manifestations of an extremist nature” were identified in the LGBTQ movement, including “incitement of social and religious discord.”
Russian poilce raid gay bars and other LGBTQ sites on Friday after the country’s court labeled the community ‘extremist.’ @ostorozhno_novosti/Telegram
Russian Judge Oleg Nefedov announces the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring the LGBTQ community “extremist.” YURI KOCHETKOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Critics questioned the legality of the move, including the Justice Ministry’s authority to file the lawsuit.
Igor Kochetkov, founder of the Russian LGBT Network, was among those who tried to block the effort.
“We tried to find some legal logic in this absurdity,” Kochetkov said before the ruling. “We tried to appeal to the supreme court’s common sense and say, ‘Look, here I am, a person who’s been involved in LGBT activism for years, who’s been promoting these ideas.’
” ‘Ideas of defending human rights, mind you,’ ” he said. ” ‘And this lawsuit concerns me.’ “
Putin turned up the heat on the gay community after launching his attack on Ukraine last year, calling his effort part of a campaign to clamp down on the “degrading” influence of the West.
LGBTQ advocates protest in front of the Kremlin in Moscow amid Russia’s ongoing crackdown on the gay community. AP
But as far back as 2013 the Kremlin passed legislation restricting “gay propaganda” and banned any public endorsement of “non-traditional sexual relations” in Russia.
The 2020 government reforms that extended Putin’s term as president by two terms included a provision that outlawed same-sex marriage in the country.
The Russian supreme court has not commented further on its ruling.
With Post wires