Russian Gay Bar Owner Arrested On ‘Extremism’ Charges

He was detained at a Moscow airport, following a police raid at the bar last month during a drag show.

The unnamed owner of popular LGBTQ+ bar ‘Pose’ was arrested on March 28 amid a country-wide crackdown on the queer community, reported The Moscow Times on Sunday.

He was detained by authorities at a Moscow airport, following a police raid at the bar last month during a drag show. Two employees, Diana Kamilyanova and Alexander Klimov, were arrested during the raid and have been charged with “organizing extremist activities” for hiring and filming drag performers.

Orenburg’s Central District Court says the owner is accused of conspiring with supporters of the “international LGBT movement”, which was labeled as a ‘extremist’ entity by the country’s Supreme Court in November.

All three are being held in pre-trial detention until May 18 and face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The Kremlin’s continued conservative push to oust the queer community is nothing new, but these cases mark an extreme step. They are the first criminal charges targeting the LGBTQ+ community since the court’s decision.

The scariest part: the court has not defined what the “international LGBT movement” is, allowing it to apply convictions, fines and charges in whatever way it sees fit.

Several have been charged with misdemeanors under the law. In February, a man was found guilty for “displaying the symbols of an extremist organization” after posting a photo of a LGBTQ flag online. He was fined about $10 USD. A few days later, a woman was sentenced to a five day detention for wearing rainbow earrings.

The Human Rights Watch has found at least three groups supporting LGBTQ+ rights have shut down out of fear of prosecution.

The ban is only the latest move in President Vladimir Putin’s battle against queer rights.

Last July, a law was passed outlawing gender-affirming care, both legal and medical, for trans Russians. In 2022, an amendment banned all depictions of LGBTQ+ identities in the media.

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