United Nations human rights experts have expressed grave concern regarding a recent decision by Russia’s Supreme Court, which has classified the “international LGBT movement and its structural units” as “extremist.”

This ruling effectively criminalises all public LGBTQ+ activities and organisations in Russia, triggering fears of severe consequences for the community.

The Supreme Court’s verdict aligns with Russian criminal law that imposes strict penalties, including up to 12 years in prison, for involvement in or support of groups deemed extremist. Mariana Katzarova, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Russia, and other UN experts have emphasised the ruling’s stark deviation from Russia’s international human rights obligations.


In an official communication to the Russian Federation dated December 4, 2023, the experts expressed urgent concerns over the state’s escalating infringements on LGBTQ+ individuals’ rights. They referenced recent police raids on December 2 and 3 in Moscow and Saint Petersburg that targeted LGBTQ+ community hubs, including bars and clubs. Officers conducted unauthorised searches and scrutinised patrons’ IDs, leading to one venue’s closure due to police threats invoking the Supreme Court’s decision.

UN representatives condemned these acts as a clear intimidation strategy against the Russian LGBTQ+ community. They noted that these actions compromise the availability of legal aid and justice for victims of discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The report also highlighted the broader impact of the Supreme Court’s decision on a range of human rights, advocacy, and association activities guaranteed under international law. According to data from the SOVA Centre, a Russian human rights organisation, there were 255 unjust charges related to “extremism” or associated offences in 2022.

The experts pointed out that this ruling is part of a broader legislative assault on LGBTQ+ rights in Russia. This includes the 2013 law criminalising “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” aimed at minors, the constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in 2021, and last year’s prohibition on transgender healthcare.

In conclusion, the UN experts urged Russia to adhere to its international human rights obligations and ensure the protection and rights of the LGBTQ+ community within its jurisdiction.