Russia considers officially branding LGBT+ groups and furries as ‘extremists’

Vladimir Putin

LGBT+ groups in Russia should be designated as “extremist” organisations, an influential government figure has said.

According to Moscow Times, the Russian state-run news agency TASS reported that Andrei Tsyganov, chairman of a commission for the protection of children at the Roskomnadzor communications regulator, made the comments on Wednesday (29 September).

He said that LGBT+, radical feminist, and child-free groups should all be recognised as having “extremist ideologies”. Bizarrely, he also added furries to the list.

Tsyganov was quoted by TASS as saying: “LGBT+ ideology, radical feminism, all these furries, child-free – they, of course, should be recognised at least as extremism, extremist ideology.”

He added branding the groups as “extremists” would “expand the rights of law enforcement”, and “untie the hands of our law enforcement officers” and the communications regulator.

Tsyganov insisted that the purpose of an “extremist” designation for the groups was to protect children and teenagers in Russia from harmful content on social media.

If his idea were followed through on by the government, it would put LGBT+ rights groups in the same category as neo-Nazis and groups linked to the currently imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Vladimir Putin labelled the Christian denomination Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist group in 2017, and Russia has since charged or convicted more than 400 people for practicing the religion.

Labelling LGBT+ rights ‘extremist’ is the latest example in long list of state-sponsored homophobia in Russia

Labelling LGBT+ rights as “extremist” is just the latest example of rising homophobia and intolerance toward minority groups in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, where anti-LGBT+ discrimination, harassment and abuse often goes unchallenged by authorities.

Politicians and government figures are becoming increasingly emboldened to be openly hostile towards queer people.

In August this year, anti-LGBT+ Russian MP Vitaly Milonov was reprimanded by the country’s Human Rights Council after he called for gays to be “sterilised” and kept in shelters like cats.

Milonov, a notoriously homophobic member of the State Duma and the original proponent of Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda law“, said: “How do we fight stray cats? We sterilize them. And gays should be sterilised, too.”