News Brief

Russia’s ‘Anti-Gay Propaganda’ Law Triggers Anti-LGBTQ Hate

A Russian law outlawing so-called “gay propaganda” has triggered a surge of hate crimes against the country’s LGBTQ community, according to independent research.

Attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals have doubled since the law was introduced five years ago, according to a report by the Reuters news agency.

“(Offenders) have become more aggressive and less fearful,” said Svetlana Zakharova, a board member of Russia’s LGBT Network. She noted that many attackers seem to believe that “the government supports their actions.”

This is what many predicted when the law was first announced, with critics saying the government’s real goal was to create an illusory issue to divert public attention from other genuine concerns.

Russian state television has carried frequent reports portraying gay rights as a Western-inspired plot to undermine Russia. “Gays hate kids and [they] are bringing about an apocalypse,” said Andrey Karaulov, a journalist and broadcaster.

The European Court of Human Rights denounced the law as “blatantly discriminatory,” saying that it actually “encouraged homophobia.”

Kyrgyzstan, which followed Russia’s lead in introducing similar legislation, has also seen an increase in attacks on its LGBTQ community.

The law has been used to stop gay pride marches and has led to an increase in detention of gay rights activists.

International attention has recently focused on Chechnya, where its strongman leader and Putin-ally Ramzan Kadyrov has been accused of orchestrating “a purge” of gay men, with some being tortured while in detention.

The U.S-based Human Rights Watch group says Russia has made no serious attempt to investigate what it called Chechnya’s “gay purge.”