Sphere Foundation, a human rights organisation that spotlights and supports the LGBTQIA+ people in Russia, has launched an urgent petition to rally support against the criminalisation of the LGBTQIA+ community in Russia and to encourage safe passage for those at risk.

In a plea to the public for support the organisation has launched a grassroot initiative, which is being amplified by All Out, a global organisation advocating for the rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ individuals, to demonstrate and “affirm that human rights should not be subject to governmental oppression.”

On 30 November, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled in a closed hearing that the so-called “international LGBT movement” is an “extreme organisation”.

The top court backed the Justice Ministry’s lawsuit that claimed the “LGBT movement” had incited social and religious discord.

Late last year, local Russian media outlets reported that the law was due to come into effect on 10 January if there was no appeal made against it – though the queer community is already believed to be feeling its ramifications.

In early December, Afisha reported that local police had raided a number of LGBTQIA+ venues in Moscow, but some have since denied that this took place.

Under the new law, LGBTQIA+ individuals who do not hide their identity, publicly advocate for the community or express support for queer rights could be prosecuted, according to All Out.

“We will continue to fight for you”

“Russian authorities are once again forgetting that the LGBT+ community are human beings. They are citizens of this country just like everyone else. And now they don’t just want to erase us from the public eye, they want to ban us as a social group,” said Dilya Gafurova, Head of the Sphere Foundation.

Gafurova continued: “This is a typical move for repressive non-democratic regimes – persecution of the most vulnerable. But we will not stop our work. We are here, we are with you, no matter how things develop further.

“The existence of LGBT+ people in Russia and the value of the life and rights of each of you is undeniable, and we will continue to fight for you.”

Yuri Guaiana, Senior Campaigns Manager at All Out, described the new Supreme Court decision as “not just an attack on a social group; it’s an attack on basic human rights.”

“The Sphere Foundation petition on the All Out platform is a way for people around the world to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community in Russia,” he said.

“We will continue our efforts, undeterred, to advocate for the rights and recognition of LGBTQIA+ individuals in Russia and around the world.”

Russia recently expanded its ‘LGBT propaganda’ law to cover all citizens

In recent years, Russia’s LGBTQIA+ community has experienced a continued and potent attempt to eradicate and roll back its rights.⁠

This included the expansion of the 2013 “LGBT propaganda” ban that originally prohibited “the propaganda [amongst minors] of non-traditional sexual relations” and now includes all adults and public information, online content, film, books and advertising.⁠

Under the legislation, which was signed by Vladimir Putin on 5 December 2022, any event or act viewed as an attempt to “promote” homosexuality could result in a fine of up to 400,000 roubles (£3,414) for individuals and 4,000,000 roubles (£34,140) for legal entities.⁠

To sign the Sphere Foundations petition to support Russian LGBTQIA+ individuals click here.