Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the internationally condemned and draconian anti-LGBT propaganda law on June 29, 2013, and it entered into force the following day. This law––and the homophobic and transphobic cultural debate that swirled around it––has fueled an appalling backlash against members of Russia’s LGBT community. HRC Foundation’s full Russia: Year in Review report, which documents this backlash, is available here.
“Witch hunts, arrests, poisonous gas attacks, and murders. Not only do these terms evoke powerful memories of brutal regimes that fill the pages of history books, they also represent the very real dangers that LGBT people face each and every day in Vladimir Putin’s Russia,” said Ty Cobb, HRC Foundation’s Global Engagement Director. “The evidence is clear: state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia in Russia poses a direct threat to the safety and welfare of LGBT Russians, and that threat is growing.”
“The consequences of this law for all Russian society are difficult to overestimate,” said Maria Kozlovskaya, Program Manager for the advocacy group Russian LGBT Network. “Our public polls suggest that the level of violence against LGBT people has increased significantly, and that members of the community feel vulnerable and targeted.”
HRC Foundation’s report highlights many of the publicly known incidents of discrimination, persecution and violence against LGBT Russians. From public beatings by vigilantes, to online witch hunts to find and fire teachers who support LGBT equality, to an investigation of a 14-year-old girl who allegedly broke the propaganda law by coming out to her classmates, the incidents the report documents are wide-ranging.
Its sections include: existing anti-LGBT laws in Russia as well as those still under consideration; documented cases of investigations and fines resulting from alleged violations of the propaganda law; violent attacks against LGBT Russians, as well as the targeting of LGBT individuals, groups, and clubs by Russian police forces; the upward trend of LGBT Russians seeking asylum in the U.S. and elsewhere abroad; and examples of the intensification of anti-LGBT rhetoric by Russian lawmakers and state-owned media.
“There are also signs that the crackdown could get even worse,” said Cobb. “Some anti-LGBT activists and lawmakers are calling for decriminalising homosexuality, new laws and constitutional reforms that ban marriage equality, and even a fingerprint database for tracking those with HIV/AIDS.”
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organisation working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realise a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.