The Russian Ministry of Justice filed a lawsuit to ban the “international LGBT movement” in Russia on November 17. It considers, without pointing out specific cases, that various samples and manifestations of extremist orientation, “including incitement to social and religious discord” have been detected in the activities of the LGBT movement in Russia.

In Russia there is no group that presents itself as a global “LGBT movement.” But a few days ago, following the Russian Justice Ministry’s proposal to outlaw a “global LGBT movement,” a group of Russian gay activists challenged the government by announcing the creation of such an organization.

The department did not specify what exactly it considers a “movement,” who is part of it, or how it is organized. Representatives of gay and transgender people fear it will lead to arrests and prosecutions. The move is a further step in Russia’s growing restrictions on expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity, building on crackdowns that began nationwide with the law against gay propaganda 10 years ago.

In the LGBT community they believe that any psychological or legal support for members of the gay community is now in danger. Even talk-only meetings can be a crime. Activists fear that a ban on the “LGBT movement” could lead to increased hatred and intimidation against the community and will likely lead to the persecution of LGBT people simply for the very fact of their existence. Suicides in this group, activists warn, may increase with this increasingly hostile climate.

The scope of the law is still unclear, and critics believe it will be applied selectively. Several human rights organizations have already reported a sharp increase in the number of requests they have received from members of the LGBT community wishing to leave the country.

As weariness and uncertainty about the war grows, Putin is trying to promote an image of Russia as the guardian of traditional moral values ​​in contrast to a decadent West. In a speech last year, Putin said the West should not impose on Russia “its new trends, quite strange, in my opinion, such as the existence of dozens of homosexual genders and parades.” Putin recently mocked them by calling transgender people “transformers.”

The hearing was held behind closed doors; Only representatives of the Ministry of Justice were allowed to enter the room. Designating people, entities or movements as “extremists” is one of the Kremlin’s favorite tools to cancel what bothers it. More than 100 groups are already banned in Russia for being “extremist.” Previous cases, for example that of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious movement and that of organizations linked to the opposition politician Alexei Navalny, have opened the door to arrests with this legal figure.

Supreme Court Judge Oleg Nefedov took four hours to consider the Ministry of Justice’s claim. In response, seven Russian human rights organizations submitted their own motion to the court, asking it to dismiss the Justice Ministry’s motion, reasoning that there is no such thing as an “international LGBT movement” in Russia.