Homophobia in Russia Is Taking a Kafkaesque Turn

Published: June 9, 2014

We all know things are bad for LGBT people in Russia, right?

In fact, we have no idea. In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Tatiana Vinnichenko, director of the Russian LGBT organization Rakurs, revealed how much most of us in the West don’t know about Russia’s anti-gay crackdown. And all of it is bad news.

First, official state prosecutions and persecution of LGBT organizations has morphed and intensified. Previously, LGBT organizations were pressured to register as “foreign agents”—spies, basically—but those registrations were subject to judicial review. The results were uneven: Some courts rubber-stamped the government’s positions, but others found a lack of evidence and ruled for the LGBT organizations.

Earlier this year, says Vinnichenko, the law was quietly changed. Now the government has the power to declare an organization a foreign agent as an administrative matter. In other words, what was once a matter of law, however imperfect, is now a matter of bureaucracy. With one fell swoop—and one that can come at any moment, without warning—a gay community center, or film festival, or support group can be branded a spy.

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