Russian riot police raid another gay bar under ongoing crackdown on ‘LGBT movement’
Russian riot police raided yet another gay bar over the weekend under the country’s ongoing attack on the LGBTQ+ community.
Video footage shared by local news outlets show riot police forcing their way into LGBTQ+ club Fame, based in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city.
Suddenly, the music cuts out and the lights switch on, as officers can be heard yelling at patrons and shining torches into the corners of the room.
What few patrons were inside when police arrived can be seen filing out of the building.
Radio Free Europe reports that dozens were detained by police, who made note of their personal information.
This marks the latest in a string of raids by Russian riot police after the country’s supreme court declared LGBTQ+ activism, or what it calls the “international public LGBT movement”, illegal.
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Russia’s justice ministry had claimed as part of its supreme court case filing that authorities had identified “signs and manifestations” of the “LGBT movement” that were of an “extremist nature.”
There is no evidence for these claims.
The ruling sparked major concern among human rights groups in Russia and beyond, noting that queer activism will be virtually impossible in the future, and that Russian LGBTQ+ citizens could be in danger of lengthy prison sentences if they are deemed to be part of the so-called movement.
Since the ruling came into effect, there has been a wave of reports of LGBTQ+ venues being raided.
Earlier this month, a string of LGBTQ+ clubs, bars, saunas, and more were shut down by police officers who checked patrons’ documents and ID cards.
In one instance, witnesses reported police officers forcing patrons at an LGBTQ+ sauna being forced to lie face-down on the floor.
As a result of the unrelenting raids, several organisations that serve the LGBTQ+ community in Russia have been shut down, including St. Petersburg’s Central Station gay club which announced in a post to social media that the new law had forced them out of their rented space.
Russian authorities have been implementing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation designed to censor and suppress open discussions of the community since at least 2013.
Last year, President Vladimir Putin made new amendments to Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law, extending it to adults.
The law, which was originally directed at content consumer by minors, forbids the distribution of materials that it deems as “promoting non-traditional values, LGBT, feminism, and a distorted representation of traditional sexual values.”
Individuals found to be in violation of the law can be fined up to 400,000 roubles (£5,466) while private companies in violation of the law can be fined up to five million roubles (£68,327).
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