(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists) 

LEGAL INFORMATION

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993 and is legal throughout the Russian Federation, apart from Chechnya, where the maximum penalty under Sharia Law is death.

Russian law does not mention gender identity or sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination or incitement of hatred or violence (Shabanova, Maria, “Rights of LBGT Minorities in Russian Law and Practice”, in Russia and the EU: Uneasy Relations, A Look from Belgium, (2009): 190 – 196). The only current mention of homosexuality in Russian law at the federal level is in Articles 131 and 132 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Article 131 refers to heterosexual rape and article 132 refers to “non-consensual sexual intercourse between people of the same gender”; the same punishment applies in both cases.

Since 2006, a number of cities and provinces in Russia have adopted prohibitions on “homosexual propaganda” to minors, which incur administrative fines. These bans were used as the basis for a law passed at the federal level on July 2013 by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The bill bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” 

Criminal Code of the Russian Federation

Chapter 18. Crimes Against the Sexual Inviolability and Sexual Freedom of the Person

Article 131: Rape

Rape, that is sexual relations with the use of violence or with the threat of its use against a victim or other persons, or in taking advantage of the victim’s helpless condition, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of three to six years.

Article 132: Violent Sexual Actions

Pederasty, lesbianism, or any other sexual actions with the use of violence or with the threat of its use against the victim or against other persons, or with the taking advantage of the helpless condition of the victim, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of three to six years.

Proposed Federal Legislation, Legal Committee of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly (11 November, 2011): On Introduction of Changes into St. Petersburg Law “On Administrative Offences in St. Petersburg”. To amend with articles 71 and 72 with the following content:

“Article 71. Public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderness amongst minors

Public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderness amongst minors incur imposition of fine on citizens in the amount from one to three thousand rubles; on officials – from three to five thousand rubles; on legal entities – from ten to fifty thousand rubles.

Nonetheless, repeated attempts to re-criminalize homosexual behavior at the federal level have been made in recent years. The most recent attempt took place in November 2011 when a so-called “gay propaganda” law was proposed in a bill introduced in the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly. The bill proposes changes to St. Petersburg Law on “Administrative Offences in St. Petersburg”. The proposed law will prohibit the “propaganda” of “sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism, and pedophilia to minors”. Public actions deemed as such will incur a penalty of one to three thousand rubles for civilians. This amendment would violate an array of civil and political rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom of speech, by inhibiting the LGBTI community’s ability to organize and by prosecuting LGBT individuals who are open about their sexuality in public. Similar laws have already been adopted regionally in the Ryazan and Arkhangelsk oblast, two regions of the Russian Federation.

CASE LAW

Alla Konstantinova Pitcherskaia v. Immigration and Naturalization Service

John Doe v. Eric H. Holder, Nov. 27, 2013

PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND/OR STATE’S CAPACITY TO PROTECT

Same-sex relations in Russia are legal, but attitudes about sexuality and gender identity remain conservative for the most part. In a 2020 referendum, voters backed an amendment to the constitution to allow marriage only between a man and a woman – effectively closing the door on potential future legislation in favour of same-sex weddings.

In Chechnya, LGBTIQ+ Chechens have continuously faced persecution including incidents of anti-LGBTIQ+ violence and killings; and state-sanctioned detentions and abuse. In 2019, it was reported by the Human Rights Campaign HRC, that there was a denial by the state of the of existence of LGBTIQ+ persons in Chechnya and at the same  time, over 20 men had been killed and several others detained for allegedly being LGBTI. A report published in 2017 reported that despite the empowerment of the LGBTI movement during the last 20 years, LGBTI people in Russia face extensive legal discrimination, widespread homophobia and even massive violence.This report also documents historical developments of challenges and successes both LGBTI persons as well as organisations have faced in Russia from the 2000’s up until 2017; see LGBTI in Russia: history of success, opportunities and challenges 1 June 2017. 

The level of homophobia is high and Russian human rights organizations report numerous instances of hate crimes against LGBT persons and this is felt most by LGBTIQ persons and organisations based outside the major cities. The State’s capacity to protect is lacking in this regard as there are no legal mechanisms in place by which to report these offenses (Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2011. Study of Homophobia, Transphobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Sociological Report: Russian Federation, p. 3 of 41). Freedom of expression is also violated through State actions. The federal “gay propaganda” law and similar bans previously enacted in cities and regional provinces across Russia blatantly criminalize LGBT individuals who openly express their sexual orientation.

 The decriminalization of same-sex relations has made it more difficult to use gender identity or sexual orientation as grounds for asylum. As such, most of these cases have been rejected (Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2011, p. 28 of 41).

Apart from the regional and federal laws banning the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors, gay pride parades and rallies have been banned in Moscow and other cities and violent attacks on LGBTQ individuals are becoming alarmingly commonplace. LGBT individuals are offered little State protection or public acceptance and continue to suffer chronic violations of fundamental human rights.

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs)

Russian LGBT Network

Tel: +7 812 454 64 52 
 

The Russian LGBT Network is a Russia-based interregional social movement and the largest human rights organisation in Russia that promotes equal rights and respect for human dignity regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. The team records data on human rights violations, litigates hate crimes, and advocates for a better national and international recognition of LGBT+ rights. The Network unites and develops regional initiative groups and organizations and provides comprehensive support for LGBT+ people across Russia. Founded in 2006, it remains the most prominent LGBT+ organization in Russia. The Network’s Rapid Response program, which has existed since 2014, is designed to support victims of the hate crimes and LGBT+ activists who suffer because of their activism. Rapid Response has enabled the Network to craft and lead the emergency response to the anti-LGBT+ crackdown in Chechnya since 2017. The Network assists victims of abductions, tortures, and other forms of violence, including forced psychiatric treatment against lesbian and bisexual women.

Moscow Community Centre for LGBTI+ Initiatives

Tel: +7 (977) 456-04-37 (from 2 p.m to 7 p.m
 

The Moscow Community Center has provided psychological care, legal services, and shelter for victims of the anti-gay pogrom in Chechnya since 2017. In addition to the care and services they provide to those escaping persecution in the Chechen Republic, the Center provides similar services to LGBTQI people from across Russia who find themselves in a difficult life situation and provides a safe space for the Moscow LGBTQI community overall. Through education and outreach, the Center is committed to bringing together the region’s activists to build an LGBTQI movement in Moscow and across Russia and to fight anti-gay discrimination.

Krilija – St. Petersburg LGBT Human Rights Center “Wings”

www:krilija.sp.ru/
191186 St. Petersburg, PO Box 108
Tel: +781-23-12-31-80 
 

The Association began to work on behalf of gays and lesbians in the summer of 1990. It took nearly a year to gain official recognition for the organization. On October 9, 1991, after a year of court battles, it became the first officially registered homosexual group in the Soviet Union. The activities of the group include not only human rights casework, but also designing social support programs and organizing cultural events for the homosexual community. Since the repeal of the anti-sodomy law in 1994, the main focus of the group’s work has turned toward eradicating the extreme and often violent problem of homophobia in Russia. The group has received a significant amount of press coverage in newspapers and on radio and television. The group sees public education on the nature of homosexuality as a key element in their work, especially given the lack of exposure most of the population has had to the homosexual community.

International Society for Human Rights – Russia

103715 Moscow4 Slavyanskaya Plotted, Str. 1
Tel: +795-924-47-01
Email: info@ishr.org; inter-society@mtu-net.ru
 
The International Society for Human Rights advocates human rights and international adherence to the principles embodied in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, focusing on issues of freedoms of opinion and expression, movement, religion, information and association…. SHR provides direct support and assistance to victims of human rights abuses and their families through social assistance programs. This comes in various forms, from legal services to donations of food, clothing and medical supplies. ISHR also participates in legislative reform and development through offering consultation to state bodies on ways to improve protection of human rights. Under the auspices of their international office, ISHR conducts investigations into individual cases of human rights violations and undertakes more general research into critical situations where human rights are believed to be in danger.
 

Memorial-International Historical-Cultural, Human Rights and Charitable Society

12 Maly Karetny, 127 051 Moscow
Tel: +7 495 225 3118, +7 916 061 0500, (Human Rights Center)
 
The Migration and Law Network, a program of the Memorial Human Rights Center, has been providing free legal assistance to refugees and migrants since 1996. In 2004, the Memorial Human Rights Center was awarded the highest prize in this field for its work with refugees – the UNHCR Prize named after A. Fritjef Nansen.

Amnesty International Russia

121019 Moscow G-19
PO Box 212
Tel: +795-291-29-04
Email: amintglasnet@glas.apc.org  

Amnesty International is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works for: the release of prisoners of conscience — men, women and children imprisoned for their race, color, sex, ethnic origin, sexual preference, or the non-violent expression of their beliefs; abolition of the death penalty and the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment; securing fair and prompt trials for political prisoners.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN SPECIALISTS

We have no specialist on LGBTI for the Russian Federation, but would welcome suggestions.

Country-of-origin information to support the adjudication of asylum claims from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (‘LGBTI’) asylum-seekers (Asylum Research Centre ARC, also formerly known as Asylum Research Consultancy) https://asylumresearchcentre.org/about/

 

Researched by: Lana Sytnik