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Russian LGBT Activist Under House Arrest is Facing New Charges

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Illustration reading, “Family is where love is. Support LGBT+ families.”

© 2019 Yulia Tsvetkova

Russian feminist and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activist Yulia Tsvetkova, already under house arrest for two months on bogus charges of pornography distribution, faces new charges of allegedly violating Russia’s “gay propaganda” law.

In the new charges, police claim Tsvetkova, 26, violated the country’s notorious “gay propaganda” law by posting on social media her drawing, depicting two same-sex couples with children and the caption “Family is where love is. Support LGBT+ families!” Tsvetkova already faces up to six years imprisonment for the pornography charge.

In a recent interview, Tsvetkova said she made the drawing last year in support of a same-sex couple with two adopted children who had to flee Russia after being targeted by authorities.

In December, a court in Komsomolsk-on-Amur fined Tsvetkova 50,000 rubles (US$ 800) for violation of the “gay propaganda” law over LGBT-friendly and feminist posts in 2 social media groups which she administers. Among other things, the judge was unfazed by the fact that both groups had “18+” age markers even though Russia’s “gay propaganda” ban only concerns “propagating non-traditional sexual relations” to children.

The “gay propaganda” law, adopted by Russia in 2013, was condemned as discriminatory by the European Court of Human Rights in 2017. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has also denounced the law because it “encourages the stigmatization of and discrimination” of LGBT people. However, instead of repealing the law, the Russian government uses it to silence LGBT activists, suppress peaceful protests, and censor online expression.

Tsvetkova came under police scrutiny last year after a homophobic agitator Timur Bulatov, who in his view leads a “moral jihad” against LGBT people, filed written complaints against her. Bulatov is particularly known for identifying allegedly LGBT teachers, outing them to school principals, and demanding their dismissal to guard children against “gay propaganda.” In 2016, he boasted that 65 teachers lost their job as a result of his complaints. Bulatov’s attacks on Tsvetkova forced her to close a youth theater project last spring over security concerns.

Russian authorities should drop all charges against Tsvetkova, finally repeal the propaganda law, and end its targeting of LGBT people which facilitates hate campaigns like that of Bulatov.

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