UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk criticized the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation to recognize the “international LGBT social movement” as an extremist organization. The verdict threatens to lead to the banning of LGBT groups and associations in Russia, and LGBT representatives risk criminal prosecution and imprisonment, the UN said.
Türk called on Russian authorities to reverse the decision, emphasizing that it endangers human rights defenders and anyone who supports the rights of LGBT people. “No one should be imprisoned for human rights work or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity”, he added.
The UN commissioner also expressed concern about the widespread use of the label “extremist” by Russian authorities to prosecute opposition-minded people, including politicians, journalists and human rights defenders. “The law must uphold and protect the principles of equality and non-discrimination. The law should never be used to promote inequality and discrimination”, concluded Türk.
The day before, the Supreme Court banned the activities of the “International LGBT Social Movement”, recognizing it as extremist. The Ministry of Justice accused the organization of violating the law on countering extremism, although the movement itself does not officially exist. According to Russian law, an organization recognized as extremist must immediately cease to exist, and its organizers face up to 10 years in prison. The activists tried to register an organization under this name in order to participate in the court session, but they were refused.