Russia: A Year Of Discrimination
Russia: A Year Of Discrimination

A new report documenting a year of discrimination, persecution, and violence against LGBT Russians following the enactment of Putin’s anti-homosexual propaganda law.

In terms of human rights, the world still needs work; while the U.S. celebrates marriage equality advances in states such as Utah and Indiana, LGBT communities of not-so-progressive countries like Russia continue to struggle in the dark. In the wake of numerous milestones made in worldwide equality efforts, it’s time for Russia to swallow its pride, and start supporting Pride.

In advance of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s notorious anti-LGBT law, on June 27, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation released a new report highlighting deeply disturbing trends of harassment, investigations, arrests, and acts of violence against LGBT Russians that have followed in its wake.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the internationally condemned and archaic anti-LGBT propaganda law on June 29, 2013, and it entered into force the following day. This law––and the homophobic and transphobic cultural debate that swirled around it––has fueled an appalling backlash against members of Russia’s LGBT community.

HRC Foundation’s full Russia: Year in Review report, which documents this backlash, is available on their website,

“Witch hunts, arrests, poisonous gas attacks, and murders. Not only do these terms evoke powerful memories of brutal regimes that fill the pages of history books, they also represent the very real dangers that LGBT people face each and every day in Vladimir Putin’s Russia,” said Ty Cobb, HRC Foundation’s Global Engagement Director. “The evidence is clear: state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia in Russia poses a direct threat to the safety and welfare of LGBT Russians, and that threat is growing.”

“The consequences of this law for all Russian society are difficult to overestimate,” said Maria Kozlovskaya, Program Manager for the advocacy group Russian LGBT Network. “Our public polls suggest that the level of violence against LGBT people has increased significantly, and that members of the community feel vulnerable and targeted.”

HRC Foundation’s report highlights many of the publicly known incidents of discrimination, persecution and violence against LGBT Russians. From public beatings by vigilantes, to online witch hunts to find and fire teachers who support LGBT equality, to an investigation of a 14-year-old girl who allegedly broke the propaganda law by coming out to her classmates, the incidents the report documents are wide-ranging.

Its sections include: existing anti-LGBT laws in Russia as well as those still under consideration; documented cases of investigations and fines resulting from alleged violations of the propaganda law; violent attacks against LGBT Russians, as well as the targeting of LGBT individuals, groups, and clubs by Russian police forces; the upward trend of LGBT Russians seeking asylum in the U.S. and elsewhere abroad; and examples of the intensification of anti-LGBT rhetoric by Russian lawmakers and state-owned media.

“There are also signs that the crackdown could get even worse,” said Cobb. “Some anti-LGBT activists and lawmakers are calling for recriminalizing homosexuality, new laws and constitutional reforms that ban marriage equality, and even a fingerprint database for tracking those with HIV/AIDS.”

If Putin’s legislations and anti-gay propaganda are allowed to remain in place, discrimination will continue to flourish, and the world will be looking at a Russia that insists on reverting back to the dark-ages. Yet even in the face of world powers such as Russia, invaluable awareness campaigns and human rights efforts like those of the HRC Foundation can still make a difference. We cannot turn our backs on our fellow LGBT family in Russia; love is love, no matter who you are, the color of your skin, or what country you happen to live in.