Police immediately raids LGBTQ+ clubs in Moscow after Russia bans ‘International LGBTQ+ movement’

Screenshot of a video from the DW YouTube channel. Fair use.

The request from the justice ministry of Russia  to ban what it called the “international LGBTQ+ social movement” was initiated on November 17. Not even two weeks have passed since the Supreme Court of Russia ruled the movement and its activists are “extremists,” on November 30.  As reported by Reuters, the ministry stated, without providing specific instances, that it had observed signs of extreme behavior, including the promotion of social and religious strife, in the actions of the LGBTQ+ community in Russia.

This ruling follows a chain of anti-LGBTQ+ and trans people laws adapted in recent months to tighten controls over expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity. This includes the enactment of laws that prohibit the promotion of “non-traditional” sexual relationships and forbid legal or medical gender changes.

Read more: ‘Please hate the terrorist state’: Trans people and allies speak up against a transphobic law in Russia

LGBTQ+ people  in Russia say that they are afraid that anyone identifying as LGBTQ+ could now be announced as “extremist” and criminally punished. The spokesperson of the UN Human Rights office Ravina Shamdasani, as quoted by Reuters, said the LBGTQ+ community's situation in Russia was “just going from bad to worse,” and the lack of clarity around the court's definition of “LGBTQ+ movement” left the law open to abuse.

Read more: ‘History of love in the country of hatred': influencers detained in Russia for LGBTQ+ ‘propaganda’

Meduza has since published a report about how three night clubs that cater to LGBTQ+ people were searched by the police and people detained during the night after the courts decision. 

Holod media published a tweet with the video from one of the raids:

The police came to club Secret, bar Mono, and Hunters Party at the Kinky Rouge club. Apart from that, because of the Supreme Court's decision, the oldest gay club, called The Central Station, is shutting down in Saint Petersburg.

As one of the clubs visitors told the telegram channel Caution, Moscow:

In the middle of the party, they stopped the music and [police] began to enter the halls. There were also citizens of other countries at the party. On the way out they took photographs of passports without permission to do so. The scheme was familiar; this is how similar clubs in Saint Petersburg were closed. Someone was panicking.

Organizations that help LGBTQ+ people leave Russia, are asking for urgent help. For example, NGO Queer Svit said:

This is not a simple post, this is a cry for help.  During the last two days, because of the court decision on LGBTQ+ people, there were over 124 percent of applications for assistance that we usually receive monthly. We do not have money to have all these people. Please help.

Many Russian opposition media have colored their logos in rainbow colors. 

The Pride Month has come to Russia but there is one nuance.

Some of them lost subscribers because of this step of solidarity. 

Lentach, [a channel that's more humor focussed than opposition media], lost the highest number of subscribers: 27 000

(2/3) [Lentach renamed the channel to] “LGBTach” released a cool statement, I subscribe to everything: “We are not fucking politicians or revolutionaries <…> But know that we will not abandon you. We have you, and you have us, and there are a huge number of people around who accept and love you — just as you are.”

The punishment for participating in or financing an extremist organization is punishable under Russian criminal law by up to 12 years in prison.

Read more: First victims of anti-LGBTQ+ law in Russia are trans persons and books

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