Moscow, November 30: Russia's Supreme Court on Thursday effectively outlawed LGBTQ+ activism, in the most drastic step against advocates of gay, lesbian and transgender rights in the increasingly conservative country. In a statement announcing a lawsuit filed to the court earlier this month, the Justice Ministry argued that authorities had identified “signs and manifestations of an extremist nature” by an LGBTQ+ “movement” operating in Russia, including “incitement of social and religious discord,” although it offered no details or evidence. In its ruling, the court declared the “movement” to be extremist and banned it in Russia.

The hearing took place behind closed doors and with no defendant. Multiple rights activists have pointed out that the lawsuit targeted the “international civic LGBT movement,” which is not an entity but rather a broad and vague definition that would allow Russian authorities to crack down on any individuals or groups deemed to be part of the “movement.” 'We're Here, We're Queer, We're Coming for Your Children' Chants by LGBTQ Activists in NYC's Annual Drag March at Manhattan Park Spark Outrage Online (Watch Videos)

“Despite the fact that the Justice Ministry demands to label a nonexistent organization -- the international civic LGBT movement' -- extremist, in practice it could happen that the Russian authorities, with this court ruling at hand, will enforce it against LGBTQ+ initiatives that work in Russia, considering them a part of this civic movement,” Max Olenichev, human rights lawyer who works with the Russian LGBTQ+ community, told The Associated Press ahead of the hearing. Ethiopia Crackdown on Gay Sex: Authorities Raid Hotels, Bars and Other Venues to Stop Homosexual Activities in Addis Ababa

Some LGBTQ+ activists have said they sought to become a party to the lawsuit, arguing that it concerns their rights, but were rejected by the court. The Justice Ministry has not responded to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

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