Russian Police Raid Gay Bars Shortly After Ban on "LGBT+ Movement"

The police in the Russian capital Moscow reportedly raided several gay bars, saunas, and other establishments. According to the AP news agency, photos were taken of the partygoers present. The raids took place on Friday night, a day after the highest Russian court approved a ban on the "international LGBT+ movement."
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The raids in Moscow on Friday night were accompanied by a show of force, with visitors required to show their identification and have photos taken of them. Russian media reports suggest that the police conducted the raids under the guise of a "drug control" operation. Various sources have informed CNN that it does appear to be a routine check on drug possession, notably right after the imposition of the ban on the "LGBT+ movement." Moreover, there are conflicting reports about the establishments that were allegedly raided. According to the owner of a gay club that, according to independent Russian media channels, was raided, nothing happened. He stated that it was just a pop-up party. "We are still operating," CNN quotes him. The reason why the police took photos of the visitors is not known.

Nevertheless, the Russian LGBT+ community is deeply concerned. The court ruling had already prompted several LGBT+ establishments to pre-emptively close their doors, including the popular Central Station in St. Petersburg. There are also reports of LGBT+ individuals consciously avoiding community events out of fear of potential consequences.

Under the new ban, LGBT+ individuals can be labelled as a "foreign agent" or "extremist," both of which carry high prison sentences. Russian LGBT+ organisations paint a bleak picture of the future: "People with homophobic views now feel comfortable. And the prospects are grim," says the coordinator of a Russian LGBT+ organisation regarding the ban.

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