1st Russians are fined or jailed over rainbow-colored items after LGBTQ+ ‘movement’ is outlawed

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures speaking to Russian servicemen, participants of the special military operation in Ukraine undergoing treatment after injuries at the branch No. 2 of the National Medical Research Center for High Medical Technologies, the Central Military Clinical Hospital named after Alexander Vishnevsky of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. (Kristina Kormilitsyna, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

TALLINN, Estonia — The first publicly known cases have emerged of Russian authorities penalizing people under a court ruling that outlawed LGBTQ+ activism as extremism, Russian media and rights groups have reported, with at least three people who displayed rainbow-colored items receiving jail time or fines.

The Supreme Court ruling in November banned what the government called the LGBTQ+ “movement” operating in Russia and labeled it as an extremist organization. The ruling was part of a crackdown on LGBTQ+ people in the increasingly conservative country where “traditional family values” have become a cornerstone of President Vladimir Putin’s 24-year rule.

Russian laws prohibit public displays of symbols of extremist organizations, and LGBTQ+ rights advocates have warned that those displaying rainbow-colored flags or other items might be targeted by the authorities.

On Monday, a court in Saratov, a city 730 kilometers (453 miles) southeast of Moscow, handed a 1,500-ruble (roughly $16) fine to artist and photographer Inna Mosina over several Instagram posts depicting rainbow flags, Russia’s independent news site Mediazona reported. The case contained the full text of the Supreme Court ruling, which named a rainbow flag the “international” symbol of the LGBTQ+ “movement.”

Last week, a court in Nizhny Novgorod, some 400 kilometers (248 miles) east of Moscow, ordered Anastasia Yershova to serve five days in jail on the same charge for wearing rainbow-colored earrings in public, Mediazona reported. In Volgograd, 900 kilometers (559 miles) south of Moscow, a court fined a man 1,000 rubles (about $11) for allegedly posting a rainbow flag on social media, local court officials reported Thursday.

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