Russia and Belarus – countering hate crime and hate speech against the LGBTQI+ community

Human Rights Conference, Fri 3 Aug 4:00 PM–4:45 PM

Russia and Belarus – countering hate crime and hate speech against the LGBTQI+ community

In tandem with a worsening human rights situation, both Belarus and Russia have embarked on a crackdown on LGBTQI+ rights for the past few years. As a result, LGBTQI+ individuals and rights activists face increased discrimination, threats and violence in their everyday lives.
In Russia the state seldom takes actions to counter violence against the LGBTQI+ community and offences are not categorized as hate crimes. Authorities rarely open criminal cases even when evidence is sufficient. After the adoption of the law that ban propaganda of “non-traditional sexual relations” among minors in 2013 the situation has deteriorated further. In Chechnya the situation is especially severe. During the spring of 2017, it was revealed that gay men were detained in mass, threatened and tortured. Apart from the “gay propaganda law”, several laws that restrict the right to association, assembly and expression have also been adopted in the past years - for instance, a law that forces organisations that receive foreign funding to register as foreign agents if engaging in what is loosely defined as “political activity”.
Similar to the Russian homophobic propaganda law, Belarus adopted a law that prohibits the dissemination of information “that discredits the institution of the family and marriage’’ in 2016. It entered into force on July 1st 2017. As in Russia, people who experience violence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity seldom take the cases to the police due to bad experiences of law enforcement bodies and lack of trust. A survey that Freedom House conducted in 2016 revealed that the LGBTQI+ community remains one of the most persecuted groups in Belarus. Additionally, due to repressive legislation, activists cannot register their organisations. Free and fair elections are not possible and the judiciary in both Belarus and Russia is political. Altogether, this has led to a worsening situation where LGBTQI+ rights activists are facing more obstacles in their everyday work, which also creates fatigue.
How do you work in this environment to counter hate crime and hate speech, and what can you achieve? What strategies work? Meet representatives from the Russia-based LGBT group “Coming Out”, the Russian LGBT Network, and the Human Rights Initiative “Journalists for Tolerance”, based in Belarus, to gain access to their experiences and knowledge within this field.

Participants: Kseniya Mikhailova, Lawyer at the LGBT group Coming Out, Oleg Rozhkov, journalist, media expert, Chairperson of the board, Human Rights Initiative "Journalists for Tolerance", Representative of the Russian LGBT Network.

Moderator: Cecilia Rosing, Programme Officer for Eurasia, Civil Rights Defenders

Organised by Civil Rights Defenders


Date/time: Fri 3 Aug 4:00 PM–4:45 PM
Language: English
Type/category: Informative > Debate/panel discussion
Organizer: Civil Rights Defenders
Location: EuroPride House, Human Rights Conference (Soppteatern, Gatuplan)
Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, Sergels Torg 1
Metro station/bus stop: T-Centralen