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Russia Declares St. Petersburg LGBT Group 'Foreign Agent'

Russia Declares St. Petersburg LGBT Group 'Foreign Agent'


By requiring Coming Out Russia to register as a 'foreign agent,' a judge has severely hampered the advocacy efforts of the group, it says.

A Russian court has ruled that Coming Out Russia, an LGBT educational and advocacy organization based in St. Petersburg, must registere as a foreign agent, according to the group's Facebook page.

"The label 'foreign agent' on all the public materials of the organization would be a sign for wider society that the idea of protecting the rights of LGBT people is something 'foreign,' and therefore unnecessary and even harmful," reads a post on the group's Facebook page. "An organization registered as a 'foreign agent' would also be subject to extra governmental audits, and further measures that would limit its capabilities to work."

Coming Out Russia says it will appeal the decision. The ruling as reported by the organization comes little more than a year since the enactment of Russia's draconian nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda, which prohibits positive speech about LGBT people in any venue that might be visible to minors.

Coming Out Russia did not directly mention the ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" as the source of the initial complaint, but reports indicate that the antigay law has created an untenable situation for LGBT Russians of all ages since its enactment in 2013.

Coming Out Russia says it spent considerable resources fighting the case, as well as on public-education outreach during the trial. The organization hopes those efforts, while so far having proven futile in court, have made a positive impact toward fostering greater acceptance of LGBT Russians.

"We are hoping that, regardless of the final outcome, this message was able to reach the hearts and minds of many people," the group's Facebook post continued.

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