Submission about LGBT+ rights in Russia


This report on LGBT+ rights in Russia is provided by the Sphere Foundation for the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation, Ms. Mariana Katzarova.

“Sphere Foundation” is a human rights organisation that has been advocating for the rights of the LGBT+ community in Russia since 2011. We possess expertise in developing and coordinating programs for psychological, emergency, and legal assistance, as well as monitoring discrimination and engaging in national and international advocacy. We actively assist and support LGBT+ individuals and collaborate with other organisations that share similar objectives in various regions of Russia. Additionally, in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Sphere Foundation has taken an active stance against the war.

  1. The human rights situation in Russia raises serious concerns, particularly in areas related to equality, non-discrimination, freedom of association, prisoner rights, digital rights, protection from violence and the right to health.
  2. Gender Transition Ban. Recently, on July 14, 2023, the Russian State Duma passed the “Gender Transition Ban” bill in its third reading. This bill prohibits changing one’s gender marker in official documents and surgical gender transition. Additionally, transgender individuals are barred from becoming adoptive or foster parents, and existing transgender marriages are deemed invalid. The bill has raised significant concerns, as it poses a major obstacle for transgender individuals seeking recognition and legal protection of their gender identity, leading to potential psychological distress and an increase in suicide rates.
  3. The Impact of the new “LGBT+ Propaganda” Law. The 2022 “LGBT+ Propaganda” law in Russia has significant implications for the LGBT+ community. It prohibits placing LGBT+ profiles and advertisements on dating websites and social media platforms, selling books and literature with LGBT+ content, and showing films and series related to LGBT+ topics. Violations of this law can lead to legal consequences and fines of up to 4000 EUR, severely restricting the freedom of expression and limiting the advocacy efforts of the LGBT+ community.
  4. “Foreign Agents” Legislation. The “foreign agents” legislation has intensified pressure on civil society organisations since 2020. As of July 2023, over 740 entities, including key Russian federal and regional LGBT+ organisations like Coming Out, Sphere Foundation, Russian LGBT Network, Moscow Community Center, Action, T*-Action, Irida, Revers, Majak, Resource LGBT Center, Federation of LGBT Sport, T9 NSK, Parni Plus, Alliance of Straights and LGBT for Equality, Community Center “Action,” and CK SOS, have been designated as “foreign agents.” This designation also extends to activists, such as Igor Kochetkov, Mariya Sabunaeva, Kirill Fedorov, Sasha Kazantseva, Regina Dzugkoeva, Karen Shahinyan, Yaroslav Sirotkin, Yulia Tsvetkova, and Saša Belik. As “foreign agents,” these organisations and individuals face increased scrutiny, extensive reporting requirements, and potential reputational damage, severely limiting their ability to advocate for LGBT+ rights in Russia.
  5. Vulnerability of Transgender Prisoners. Transgender inmates face challenges, including solitary confinement, impacting mental health and reintegration. The lack of specific guidelines for their treatment exacerbates their vulnerability within the penitentiary system, exposing them to potential abuse and discrimination. For instance, Innokenty Alimov spent two months in solitary confinement before being transferred to a female pre-trial detention centre following intervention by Sphere’s lawyer.
  6. Digital Rights. The ultimate goal of the “propaganda law” lies not in the punishment of separate individuals, but rather in the ban on all and any information about LGBT+ on the Internet and inducement of homophobic views of the citizens. In recent years, organisations have faced blocking of their sites.
  7. Violence Against the LGBT+ Community. Violence against the LGBT+ community remains a pressing issue, particularly through the occurrence of “fake dates,” wherein individuals are targeted based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Such violence is further fueled by societal stigma and homophobia, and perpetrators often escape accountability, perpetuating a climate of fear and insecurity for the LGBT+ community.
  8. The Right to Health and Access to Healthcare. The Russian LGBT+ community faces significant health rights challenges, particularly concerning access to gender affirmative hormone therapy (GAHT) and HIV medication due to disruptions in supply chains caused by unilateral sanctions. Scarcity and increased prices of vital medications impact transgender individuals’ well-being, exacerbating gender dysphoria and associated mental health issues. Additionally, the stigma and discrimination faced by LGBT+ individuals in healthcare settings further hinder their access to proper medical care and services.

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