Owners of Russian Gay Bar to Face Court for 'Extremist LGBT Activities'

For the first time in Russia, individuals are set to appear in court on charges of "extremism." The owners of a gay bar in Orenburg, located in southern Russia, could face up to ten years in prison for operating an "extremist organisation."
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This was reported by outlets such as The Moscow Times and Radio Free Europe. The artistic director and the bar manager have been arrested, and last Wednesday, the court ruled that they would remain in pre-trial detention until mid-May.

A statement on the court's website describes both individuals as "persons with non-traditional sexual orientations" who "support the views and activities of the international LGBT+ movement, which is banned in our country."

The artistic director is accused of selecting drag performers for shows, while the bar manager is accused of filming these performances.

What is striking about the case is that Russian nationalist organisations and conservative activists aided the police in identifying the LGBT+ organisation. Since the "international LGBT+ movement" has been labelled as "extremist" in Russia, these groups have pledged to track down all LGBT+ expressions in the country. The police in the city of Orenburg appear to be taking advantage of this support.

Natalia Zviagina, director of Amnesty International in Russia, particularly criticises the "deplorable" role played by conservative activists in the identification process. "What LGBT+ individuals and human rights activists have feared since the end of last year has now truly materialised," she says.

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