Russia Continues LGBTQ+ Crackdown With Imprisonment, Book Bannings

Russia Continues LGBTQ+ Crackdown With Imprisonment, Book Bannings
Image: Sources: Nkrita (CC BY-SA 4.0), Danila Morozov from Higher School of Economics, Human Rights watch

Following a full ban of ‘LGBT activism’ last year and a number of imprisonments, Russia is continuing to crack down on its anti-LGBTQIA+ agenda with more people thrown in jail and banning of queer literature.

Danila Morozov, a student at Russia’s Higher School of Economics and a member of Youth Parliament, was given a 15-day jail sentence and a fine of 50,000 rubles ($825AUD) for ‘displaying LGBT symbols’ and posts ‘discrediting the Russian army” through a Telegram channel.  

Almost simultaneously, the Russian state has begun removing books from stores and online that contain LGBTQIA+ content. The Russian Book Union has set up a council to identify books that constitute propaganda which advocates for “non-traditional sexual relationships.”

France 24 reports that A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham, Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin and Heritage by Vladimir Sorokin are three of the books given the ban, with books now facing the same level of censorship as other media in Russia.  

Russia’s first laws against ‘gay propaganda’ were passed in 2013, but were expanded in 2022 supposedly to protect children from this so-called threat. It’s become increasingly common for politicians in the country to think of the LGBTQIA+ “movement” as part of a hybrid war being waged by Western countries on Russia.  

Though depictions of same-sex relationships in advertisements, films, video games and books were banned in 2022, the Supreme Court’s effectual banning of all LGBTQIA+ activism last year has ensured even greater suppression than before.

In a similar vein, the Russian state has repeatedly fined Western media companies for failing to take down content that it considers harmful, including ‘LGBT propaganda.’

What’s next for Russia’s LGBTQIA+ population?

The continued arrests of students like Morozov and increased LGBTQIA+ censorship methods cast a dark shadow over the future for Russia’s queer population. 

With this intense wave of hatred for queer Russians, many LGBTQIA+ organisations in the country have been forced underground to avoid persecution. 

The Conversation’s Sergey Katsuba says that financial assistance and letters of support for the community are an essential step that can be taken to support LGBTQIA+ Russians as they fight for their rights.

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