There is a risk of up to ten years in prison: Russia classifies LGBTQ bar operators as “terrorists”.

There is a risk of up to ten years in prison
Russia classifies LGBTQ bar operators as “terrorists.”

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Russian authorities arrest two bar owners in the city of Orenburg. The accusation: “non-traditional sexual orientation” and support for the “views and activities” of the LGBTQ movement – serious crimes from the perspective of the Russian justice system. The young people face up to ten years in prison.

Russian authorities have classified two bar operators in custody on LGBTQ “extremism” charges as “extremists and terrorists.” According to a statement from the Russian financial regulator, 28-year-old Diana Kamilianova and 21-year-old Alexander Klimov were placed on the list of “terrorists and extremists” before their trial.

After a raid on the bar in Orenburg on March 9, a court last week temporarily remanded the bar’s manager and artistic director until mid-May on “extremism” allegations. In Russia, however, pre-trial detention is usually repeatedly extended until the trial is completed. Orenburg is a large city around 1,230 km southeast of Moscow, not far from the border with Kazakhstan.

According to the public prosecutor’s office, investigations against the two suspects revealed that they were “people with non-traditional sexual orientation” who also “supported” the “views and activities” of the international LGBTQ movement, which is banned in Russia. If convicted, they face up to ten years in prison, according to official information.

According to anti-LGBTQ activist Yekaterina Misulina, who like President Vladimir Putin advocates for “traditional values” in Russia, this is the “first criminal case of its kind in Russia since the Supreme Court’s ruling against the LGBTQ movement to be classified as extremist”.

A law in Russia has banned LGBTQ “propaganda” against minors since 2013. Since Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine began in February 2022, laws have been tightened and now prohibit any depiction of “non-traditional” relationships in media, books, films and the internet. In November 2023, Russia’s Supreme Court classified the “international LGBTQ movement” as extremist. There is no movement with such a name. This vague wording paves the way for arbitrary arrests and long prison sentences for representatives of the LGBTQ community. The English abbreviation LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.

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