A Russian court has ruled that two crucial LGBT+ groups must be disbanded on the country’s largest social network, VKontakte, for “denying family values”.
The Russian LGBT Network, which was instrumental in evacuating 150 people threatened by the anti-gay purges in Chechnya, must no longer be active on VKontakte.
The social site, owned by internet company Mail.Ru, has around 100 million users and ranks as the second largest global social network.
LGBT+ advocacy groups “propagate nontraditional sexual relations”, says court.
Now the queer activist group, as well as Russian LGBT Community, must decamp from the network, severing contact from a large portion of Russians.
This is the result of the county’s controversial ‘gay propaganda law’. The unanimously approved federal bill has prohibited even the mention of homosexuality since 2013.
The Oktyabrsky District Court found that the groups “deny family values, propagate nontraditional sexual relations and cause disrespect to parents and other family members,” according to a Russian LGBT Network news release.
Moreover, the group stated that judge Yelena Nikolayeva granted the prosecutor’s request to block the pages after both were monitored for content that violates censorship regulations.
The analysis found “pictures, photos and video content demonstrating homosexual love between men and women” which is “considered to be promotion of nontraditional sexual relations”.
As well as information “which neglects family values, promotes nontraditional sexual relations and forms disrespect to parents and/or other family members”.
By ousting the queer groups, it has thrown the country’s queer population even further into the margins. One where caustic laws mute and deny LGBT+ people rights.
Svetlana Zakharova, communications manager of the Russian LGBT Network, confirmed to PinkNews that the group plans to appeal the ruling at the St. Petersburg City Court.
“We have 30 days before the decision of the court enter into force,” she said.
“We believe that our rights to freedom of speech and expression were severely violated. We believe that all our materials should be available for everyone including minors.”
Alexander Belick, a lawyer for the Russian LGBT Network, emphasised in the release that censorship is commonplace in the country and that the court’s judgements were all identical – right down to “grammatical mistakes”.
He also referenced the Roskomnadzor, a federal service responsible for media censorship, which has blocked pages in the past without asking the owner for information, he claimed.
Clamp downs on LGBT+ groups in Russia has happened both and online and offline.
Last month’s court ruling comes after the European Court of Human Rights fined Russia for blocking the registration of LGBT+ groups earlier this year.
Moreover, a student last month was allegedly expelled from a university after the institution’s in-house social media monitoring combed his account, reportedly finding LGBT+ content.