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LGBTQ+ club owner arrested in Russia for 'extremism'

March 31, 2024

The owner of a popular gay bar was arrested and will face trial with two of his employees amid the latest crackdown on LGBT rights in Russia.

A law enforcement officer stands guard during a Pride rally in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 2019
The display of the LGBTQ+ flag is effectively outlawed in Russia Image: Anton Vaganov/REUTERS

The owner of an LGBTQ+ club in the Russian city of Orenburg was arrested for "extremism," the OVD-Info rights group said Sunday.

He was detained three days ago at a Moscow airport and has been remanded in custody with two of his employees.

Prosecutors accuse him of conspiring with supporters of the "international LGBT movement," as Russia authorities describes it. 

Police arrested the art director and administrator of the Pose club earlier this month in a raid on the club during a drag show.

If found guilty, they face up to ten years in jail.

Crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights in Russia

It is the first criminal case of its kind since Russia added the "international LGBT movement" to a list of extremist and terrorist organizations.

The move was in line with a ruling by Russia's Supreme Court last November that LGBTQ+ activists should be designated as extremists.

Russia outlaws LGBTQ+ content as 'extremist'

There has been a growing crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights in Russia.

President Vladimir Putin has long promoted family and "traditional values," asserting that LGBTQ+ activism represents a Western assault on "traditional Russian values."

In 2013, Russia passed a law banning the "propaganda" of "non-traditional sexual relations" aimed at minors.

The legislation was considerably extended at the end of 2022 and now bans all forms of LGBTQ+ content in the media, on the internet, in books, and films.

lo/rc (dpa, LUSA)