Russia arrests two in first LGBTQ ‘extremism’ criminal case

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A Russian court on Wednesday ordered the arrest of a bar administrator and its art director, accusing them of organising an “extremist organisation” under new legislation criminalising the LGBTQ community.

It is the first criminal case of its kind launched since Russia banned the so-called “international LGBT movement” in November, amid an accelerating crackdown on the community.

“The court chose a preventive measure for the art director and administrator of the ‘Pose’ bar,” the Orenburg tribunal said.

They will remain in custody until May 18 and face up to 10 years in prison, according to the court in southwestern Russia.

The tribunal earlier accused the two suspects of “promoting non-traditional sexual relations among the visitors of the bar”.

Law enforcement had raided the bar in early March, and videos of humiliating detentions of some of the club visitors circulated online.

“The accused, people of non-traditional sexual orientation, acted in premeditation with a group of people… who also support the views and activities of the international public association LGBT,” the court said on Telegram.

Russia has only put out a vague description of what it calls the “international LGBT movement”, paving the way for the prosecution of anyone protecting LGBTQ rights or simply identifying with the community.

The director of the “League of the Safe Internet” and figurehead of the ultra-traditional faction pushing for repressive laws, Ekaterina Mizulina, hailed the criminal proceedings on Monday.

“This is the first criminal case in Russia after the decision of the Supreme Court to recognise LGBT as an extremist movement,” Mizulina said.

There have been several administrative proceedings under the new ruling, resulting in fines and short detentions.

The Kremlin has further ramped up conservative rhetoric since launching its military assault on Ukraine, casting the conflict as a battle against the West and its liberal values.


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