On December 1st, Russian security forces conducted raids on gay clubs and bars throughout Moscow. According to reports from local media, police searched various venues in the city, including a nightclub, a male sauna, and a bar known for hosting LGBTQ+ events, using a drug raid as justification. Witnesses reported that security services inspected the identification and photos of individuals present at the clubs.
Witnesses also mentioned that club managers were able to alert patrons before the police arrived. Social media posts contained photos and videos purportedly displaying a police van and officers stationed outside one of the clubs during the incident.
The raid comes less than two days after the Russian Supreme Court called the global LGBTQ+ movement an extremist organisation.
The Supreme Court’s ruling
The apex court’s ruling is part of a pattern of increasing restrictions in Russia on expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity, including laws outlawing the promotion of “non-traditional” sexual relations and banning legal or medical changes of gender.
It is the latest step in a decade-long crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights under Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has emphasised “traditional family values” during his 24 years in power.
The Associated Press report said that several LGBTQ+ venues already closed following the ruling, including St. Petersburg’s gay club Central Station which said in a social media post on Friday that the owner would no longer allow the bar to operate with the law in effect.
Before the ruling, leading Russian human rights groups filed a document with the court that called the justice ministry lawsuit discriminatory and a violation of the country’s constitution.
Some LGBTQ+ activists tried to become a party in the case but were rebuffed by the court, the report added.
Speaking to the news agency, Max Olenichev, a human rights lawyer who works with the community, LGBTQ+ said, “In practice, it could happen that the Russian authorities, with this court ruling in hand, will enforce (the ruling) against LGBTQ+ initiatives that work in Russia, considering them a part of this civic movement.”