TALLINN, Estonia — Russian media and rights groups said in the first publicly known cases of Russian authorities punishing people following a court ruling banning LGBTQ activism as extremism, at least three people who displayed rainbow-colored items received prison terms or imprisonment, according to Russian media and rights groups. fines.
The The decision of the Supreme Court in November The government has banned what it calls the LGBTQ “movement” operating in Russia, labeling it an extremist organization. The decision was part of a crackdown on LGBTQ people in the increasingly conservative country, where “traditional family values” have become a cornerstone of President Vladimir Putin’s 24-year rule.
Russian law prohibits the public display of symbols of extremist organizations, and LGBTQ rights activists have warned that those displaying rainbow flags or other paraphernalia could be targeted by authorities.
On Monday, a court in the city of Saratov, 453 miles southeast of Moscow, fined artist and photographer Inna Mosina 1,500 rubles (about $16) for several Instagram posts depicting rainbow flags, independent Russian news site Mediazona reported. The case contained the full text of a Supreme Court decision naming the rainbow flag as an “international” symbol of the LGBTQ “movement.”
According to reports, Mosina and his defense team have maintained that he is innocent. Mosina said the posts were published before the ruling, when rainbow flags were not considered extremist by authorities, and his lawyer argued that his alleged wrongdoings had been reported to the police before the ruling took effect. However, the court forced him to pay the fine.
Last week, a court in Nizhny Novgorod, about 248 miles east of Moscow, sentenced Anastasia Yershova to five days in prison on the same charge of wearing rainbow earrings in public, Mediazona reported. A court in Volgograd, 559 miles south of Moscow, fined a man 1,000 rubles (about $11) for allegedly posting a rainbow flag on social media.
The crackdown on LGBTQ rights in Putin’s Russia has been ongoing for more than a decade.
In 2013, the Kremlin passed the first law restricting LGBTQ rights, known as the “gay propaganda” law, which banned any public promotion of “non-traditional sex” among minors. In 2020, Putin’s constitutional reforms to extend his rule for two more terms included a provision banning same-sex marriage.
Since sending troops into Ukraine in 2022, the Kremlin has stepped up a campaign against “degrading” Western influence, which rights activists see as an attempt to legitimize the war. That year, authorities passed a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” between adults, effectively banning any public support for LGBTQ people.
Another law was passed in 2023 prohibited reassignment procedures and gender-affirming care for transgender people. The legislation prohibited “medical interventions aimed at reassignment of human sex,” as well as sex reassignment, in official documents and state records. It also amended Russia’s Family Code by listing gender reassignment as grounds for annulment and adding “gender alters” to the list of people who cannot be foster or adoptive parents.
Putin said in September 2022: “Do we really want to have “parent number 1, parent number 2, parent number 3” instead of “mother” and “father” here in our country, Russia? Do you really want the corruption of decay and destruction to be introduced in our schools starting from the primary grades?”