What follows is a guest blog by the Human Rights Defender Svetlana Zakharova.
On March 29, one of the district courts of St.Petersburg will probably liquidate Charitable Foundation Sphere*, which is the biggest NGO in Russia providing support for the LGBT+ community in the country. It is not unexpected. It is not as big as the liquidation of Memorial** or the war with Ukraine but it is still terrifying. I believe that it is the most important court case in the history of the Russian LGBT+ movement.
The Ministry of Justice demands the liquidation of Sphere merely because the Foundation works to support the LGBT+ community. It is said in the claim that the “abbreviation LGBT is against state policies” and therefore the work of the organization does not comply with the Russian Constitution. By saying so, the Russian authorities state that some citizens, namely homosexual, bisexual and transgender people, violate the Constitution just because they exist.
It can be the beginning of the new reality for the LGBT+ community in Russia, which was never particularly good. Even before the war, the Russian authorities opposed the LGBT+ community to “traditional values”, creating an image of the internal enemies. I have to admit that this propaganda of hate will continue and will be much stronger. And that is why LGBT+ people in Russia will need our support as never before. And even if the Sphere is liquidated, we will proceed with our work.
Human rights defender
Ex-Director of the Charitable Foundation Sphere
* The work of the Charitable Foundation Sphere is known as the Russian LGBT Network
** The oldest human rights organization in Russia, recently liquidated by the court