Statement by Russian and International Human Rights Organizations in Support of Russian LGBT Rights Activists under Attack

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11/18/2021

We, the undersigned Russian and international human rights organization condemn the escalating attacks against Russian LGBT Network, its leadership and partners. We call on the Russian authorities to cease targeting the largest and most prominent LGBTI rights group in Russia and foster a normal working environment for activists for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and transgender people in the country. On November 8, 2021, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation (MOJ) designated Russian LGBT Network a “foreign agent organization without legal entity,” under Russia’s pernicious and recently expanded legislation on “foreign agents.” On November 12, 2021, MOJ also designated Igor Kochetkov, the Network’s co-founder and former director of “Sphere” Charitable Foundation, as a “foreign agent media” in his individual capacity. In November, the Russian LGBT Network and Kochetkov were repeatedly targeted by state-sponsored media in a vicious smear campaign. Using derogatory and offensive language towards the LGBTI community, a program by the governmental broadcaster Vesti called the Russian LGBT Network a “web of gay-propaganda,” suggesting that the Network uses “feeble-minded youth” to reach its “propaganda” goals. They portrayed the Network and its activists as enemies of the law, projected negative and distorted summaries of various LGBTI initiatives in Russian regions, and described Kochetkov as the master-mind of it all.

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