Recently, a German instructor in Russia was found guilty of “propaganda” against the state for engaging in private, consensual sex with a 25-year-old man in his hotel room. This conviction is just one example of how Russia’s expanded law is being used to criminalize the existence of LGBTQ+ individuals.
According to reports, the teacher was fined over $1,880 and will be deported back to Germany. In March, a young binational couple was also prosecuted under the same rule, prompting them to flee the country and leave behind everything they owned. The Russian-born half of the couple has a court hearing scheduled in Russia on May 11.
The “gay propaganda” law, which was passed in 2013, prohibits the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships” in an attempt to prevent it from reaching young people. However, the law affects all Russian citizens and has been used to stifle LGBTQ+ organizations, events, websites, and media.
The law has also put the lives of Russia’s LGBTQ+ population at risk, as they face increasing harassment, violence, and hatred. In December 2020, Putin approved a bill that further expanded the ban on LGBTQ+ “propaganda,” criminalizing any public representation of LGBTQ+ existence in Russia.
Critics of the new law argue that it will only exacerbate the already dangerous situation for LGBTQ+ individuals in the country. Additionally, right-wing politicians and anti-LGBTQ+ religious leaders in the United States have welcomed Putin’s bill, with some even pushing to limit American children’s access to any LGBTQ+ content or gender-affirming healthcare.
In 2013, the president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute defended Russia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws, while in 2014, anti-LGBTQ+ evangelical leader Franklin Graham backed the legislation.
The international community, including the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, has spoken out against Russia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws. It is crucial that we continue to fight for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ individuals worldwide and push back against discriminatory laws and rhetoric.