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Russian court orders censorship of two LGBT network websites

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While Russia’s open intolerance against gay individuals is well known, a recent court ruling has, however, shocked the global LGBT community. The St Petersburg Court ordered the blocking two popular LGBT networking sites and said they were promoting “anti-family values.”

“An inspection showed they contain information available to the public, including children, which negates family values, propagates non-traditional sexual relations and promotes disrespectful attitudes towards parents,” read the court statement.

The Russian court’s decision against LGBT platforms was announced through VK, a social media platform for Russia similar to Facebook. It is also to be noted that one of the banned networking sites was a fairly popular LGBT site with nearly 20,000 members.

The decision of the court should start being enforced within 30 days. The Russian LGBT Network said they will appeal.

Russia has previously introduced a law against “gay propaganda” in 2013 which meant that “promotion of non-traditional lifestyles to minors” was to be banned, essentially making LGBT activism illegal.

Alex, an administrator of the Russian LGBT community, one of the groups mentioned during the court’s decision, said that the group was created in 2017 and that it had been instrumental in offering support to the LGBT community in Russia.

“People get support from the community, advice from other members and help in difficult situations. If it’s blocked, LGBT people won’t have anything to lean on in Russia, no way to write anonymously, share their emotions or coming-outs,” said Alex.

LGBT Russia, a group under the NGO Russian LGBT Network, said that it was surprised by the court’s decision.

The lawyer for the Russian LGBT Network Aleksandr Belik said, “The worst thing is that such judgements are rendered wholesale, it is very common practice. For example, on that day the Oktyabrskiy Regional Court held 42 pleas of blocking of websites including cases concerning sales of forged documents and sim-cards without passport, pornography and cruelty to animals. Every case took only 5 minutes. None of the owners of informational resources are notified. Prosecutors on different levels file lawsuits to Roskomnadzor, court makes decision to block information and no one of them even ask the owner of the information.”

Combined with the country’s stringent laws against LGBT activism and general contempt towards homosexuality, the current judgment to ban popular LGBT networking sites paints a grim future for the Russian LGBT community.

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