Russian security forces raided gay bars across Moscow on Friday night, less than 48 hours after the Supreme Court banned what is known as the “Global LGBTQ+ Movement” from operating in the country, calling it an organization extremist.
Police raided several locations across the Russian capital, including a nightclub, a men’s sauna and a bar hosting parties for members of the LGBTQ+ community, under the pretext of conducting a drug raid, local media reported.
Eyewitnesses told reporters that the police had asked and checked the owners’ documentation of the premises and the security services had photographed them. They also said managers had managed to notify customers in time to leave before police arrived.
The raids follow a Supreme Court ruling that declared the “LGBTQ+ Movement” an extremist organization.
The decision, which came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Justice Ministry, is the latest blow to the rights of the LGBTQ+ community under President Vladimir Putin, who has emphasized “traditional family values” for 24 years his in power.
Activists pointed out that the lawsuit was filed against a movement that is not an official entity and that under its broad and vague definition, authorities could target any individual or group that could be considered its target.
Several venues frequented by members of the LGBTQ+ community were closed following the ruling, including the St. Petersburg gay club.
Max Olenichev, a human rights lawyer who works with Russia’s LGBTQ+ community, told The Associated Press before the decision that it would effectively ban activities to protect gay rights.
Prior to the ruling, leading Russian human rights groups had filed a document with the Supreme Court, calling the Justice Ministry’s lawsuit discriminatory and a violation of the country’s constitution. Several LGBTQ+ activists tried to become parties to the case, but were rejected by the court.