Russia’s Supreme Court today (Thursday) banned LGBTQ activism in the entire country in a ruling that referred to LGBTQ activists as an "extremist movement."
The ruling was delivered following a four-hour hearing at which only representatives of the Russian Justice Ministry were allowed. Journalists were allowed into the room only when Judge Oleg Nefedov read the verdict.
The Russian Justice Ministry had filed a lawsuit against LGBTQ activism in which it claimed that there are “signs and manifestations of an extremist nature” in the movement. The Ministry further accused pro-LGBTQ activists of seeking to sow “incitement of social and religious discord.”
Human rights organizations warned that the ministry and court ruling would outlaw any organized activity or gathering to support the rights of LGBTQ people.
Igor Kochetkov, the founder of the Russian LGBT Network rights group, told the Associated Press: “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 — and this lawsuit concerns me."
He added: “They don’t want any trial. They do not want to address this matter. This is a political order, and they are following it. It is the end of any kind of justice in Russia, by and large.”
A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church praised the court's ruling in a statement to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, calling it “a form of moral self-defense by society” to protect the traditional Christian ideal of marriage.
The Russian government under President Vladimir Putin has adopted an increasingly anti-LGBTQ policy since 2013, when the first law restricting public advocacy of LGBTQ rights was passed. Putin has pushed for a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage and has criticized Western nations for embracing LGBTQ rights in the last 20 years.