Russian Activists Just Won an Important Battle Over LGBTQ Rights. But the War Is Far From Over

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12/02/2020

Two weeks after the constitution was changed, the government proposed a bill to ban same-sex marriage and end the legal recognition of transgender people. Many activists had expected the landmark bill, co-authored by conservative lawmaker Elena Mizulina, to pass in the fall. But on Nov. 16 parliament revoked the bill for revision and it could now be scrapped altogether. Svetlana Zakharova, a spokesperson at the Russian LGBT Network in St. Peterburg says she can’t say for sure why the law was repealed, but emphasizes that the LGBTQ community and its allies in Russia managed to unite to resist the legislation “more than ever before”. “Our activities, together, helped to dismiss the bill,” she says. Mizulina lost support because of the “tremendous level of public outrage about the bill’s homophobia and transphobia,” Jonny Dzhibladze, a coordinator at Vykhod (“Coming Out”), a St.Petersburg based LGBT rights group, says. “It looks like we can breathe freely for some time,” he says. But a battle won does not mean the war is over. The climate for LGBTQ people in Russia is still extremely hostile. According to a 2019 report by the Russian LGBT Network, 12% of LGBT people surveyed reported being subject to physical attacks, and 56%, psychological abuse. LGBTQ activists have been arrested, attacked and killed.

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