Recent reports out of Estonia have surfaced, marking the first public enforcement of Russia’s Supreme Court decision that categorises LGBTQ+ activism as extremist, resulting in penalties against individuals for displaying rainbow symbols.

This legal action aligns with Russia’s ongoing efforts to suppress LGBTQ+ expressions, underlining the government’s commitment to promoting “traditional family values” during President Vladimir Putin’s extensive tenure.

The prohibition against public manifestations of extremist group symbols has led to legal actions against those exhibiting LGBTQ+ identifiers, like rainbow flags. Advocates had anticipated such repercussions following the court’s designation of the LGBTQ+ “movement” as extremist in November.


Instances of enforcement include a Saratov court fining artist Inna Mosina for her Instagram posts featuring rainbow flags, despite arguments that the posts predated the court’s ruling. Similarly, Anastasia Yershova faced a five-day jail sentence for wearing rainbow earrings in Nizhny Novgorod, and in Volgograd, an individual was fined for a social media post of a rainbow flag.

These actions are part of Russia’s broader crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights, which began in 2013 with the “gay propaganda” law, extending to constitutional reforms in 2020 that included a ban on same-sex marriage.

The campaign against perceived Western decadence intensified post-2022, following military actions in Ukraine, leading to further restrictions, including a ban on gender transitioning procedures and related medical care, as well as amendments to family law that impact the rights of transgender individuals.

President Putin has publicly criticised Western liberal attitudes towards gender and sexuality, positioning these measures as protections against moral decay, resulting in significant implications for LGBTQ+ rights in Russia.