Gay Bar Owner Detained As Part Of Russia’s Crackdown On ‘LGBT Extremism’

Gay Bar Owner Detained As Part Of Russia’s Crackdown On ‘LGBT Extremism’
Image: Demostrators at LGBT protest in Russia. Source: Marco Fieber / Flickr

The new anti-LGBT ‘extremism’ laws in Russia are continuing to make headlines, with the owner of the Orenburg LGBTQ+ nightclub ‘Pose’ being detained by Russian authorities.

The art director and owner of Pose nightclub, whose name is being withheld, was detained at an airport in Moscow, and remanded in custody with his two employees who were arrested earlier this month.

Russian police allege that his venue promoted “non-traditional sexual relationships” and prosecutors have accused him of conspiring with supporters of the “international LGBT movement.” He has now been added to Russia’s official list of terrorists and extremists.

His two employees, Diana Kamilianova and Aleksandr Klimov, were arrested and detained for allegedly ‘creating a branch of an extremist organisation’. Their arrests were a part of a police crackdown on ‘LGBT extremism’, which saw police in riot gear storm the nightclub during a drag show.

Russia’s new anti-LGBT laws

Russia’s Supreme Court added the “international LGBT movement” to the list of extremist and/or terrorist organisations in Russia in November, at the request of the Ministry of Justice. 

Of course, no such official organisation exists, but the Supreme Court approved the decision alleging that LGBTQI+ activists around the world share ‘common characteristics’ and so this can be considered the same movement – so therefore, all LGBTQI+ activists and allies can be considered extremists. 

First arrests under new laws

The arrests of the two bar workers from Orenburg were the first arrests under the new laws. Both employees and the owner of Pose are facing up to 10 years in prison – the first criminal case of its kind.

Names of people on Russia’s ‘extremist/terrorist’ list are published publicly on an official government website. Collaboration with any organisation or person on this list is subject to criminal prosecution

Since the new laws came into force, many gay bars and LGBTQ+ spaces have shut down, or changed their format to be less visible, due to police pressure.

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