International: Russia, Mexico

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Russia Moves to Ban ‘International LGBT Movement’ for ‘Extremism’

The Russian Justice Ministry has filed a lawsuit with the nation’s Supreme Court to outlaw the LGBTQ+ “international public movement” as extremist. This is the latest move to control and erase the LGBTQ+ community, which has faced repeated attacks in recent years from the Putin regime, as PGN has been reporting.

Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” law has already banned the promotion of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations around minors” and was justified by Russia’s Duma as a necessary measure to protect children from homosexual influence. The law applies to anyone under 18.

In November 2022, Russian lawmakers toughened the country’s discriminatory law to ban all Russians from promoting or “praising” homosexual relationships or publicly implying that they are “normal.”

In the new lawsuit, the ministry said in an online statement that authorities have identified “signs and manifestations of extremist nature” in “the activities of the LGBT movement active” in Russia, including “incitement of social and religious discord.” Russia’s Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing to consider the lawsuit for Nov. 30, the ministry said.

In addition to the “gay propaganda” law, in 2020, Putin pushed through a constitutional reform to extend his rule by two more terms that also outlawed same-sex marriage. Then in 2022, as PGN reported, after sending troops into Ukraine, the Kremlin ramped up its rhetoric about protecting “traditional values” from what it called the West’s “degrading” influence, in what rights advocates saw as an attempt to legitimize the war in Ukraine.

Also in 2022, a law banning propaganda of “nontraditional sexual relations” among adults was adopted, which effectively outlawed any public endorsement of LGBTQ+ people. Putin also detained lesbian American basketball star Brittney Griner as a political prisoner for more than 10 months.

Another law passed this year prohibited gender transitioning procedures and gender-affirming care for trans people. The legislation prohibited any “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person,” as well as changing one’s gender in official documents and public records.

Also amended was Russia’s Family Code by listing gender change as a reason to annul a marriage and adding those “who had changed gender” to a list of people who can’t become foster or adoptive parents.

“Do we really want to have here, in our country, in Russia, ‘Parent No. 1, No. 2, No. 3’ instead of ‘mom’ and ‘dad?’” Putin said in September 2022 at a ceremony to formalize Moscow’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions. “Do we really want perversions that lead to degradation and extinction to be imposed in our schools from the primary grades?”

The new lawsuit has “lodged an administrative legal claim with the Supreme Court to recognize the International LGBT public movement as extremist and ban its activity in Russia.”

The ministry did not specify whether it was seeking the closure of any specific groups or organizations, or if the designation would apply more broadly to the LGBTQ+ community, causes and individuals, which is what Russia has been doing in recent years. Russia has consistently used the extremist label against civil rights organizations and opposition groups, which then makes their members vulnerable to criminal prosecution.

The justice ministry accused the “LGBT movement operating on the territory of the Russian Federation” of “various signs and manifestations of extremism, including incitement to social and religious hatred.”

Amnesty International’s director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Marie Struthers, denounced what she called a “deeply cynical move aimed at dehumanizing and persecuting the entire LGBTI community.”

Struthers said, “Life in silence and in fear of humiliation and imprisonment –- this is the price that the state wants to impose on countless LGBTI people in Russia.”

The Kyiv Post noted, “Since launching the Ukraine offensive — often portrayed as an existential fight against Western liberal values — Russia has accelerated its campaign against LGBTQ groups.”

The Post also said, “Russia has for years been an inhospitable environment for anyone whose views differ from the hardline interpretation of ‘traditional values’ promoted by the Kremlin and the Orthodox church.”

The head of the human rights group Sphere, which advocates for the Russian LGBTQ+ community, was sharply critical of the lawsuit, telling the Kyiv Post, “Russian authorities are once again forgetting that the LGBT+ community are human beings,” said Sphere head Dilya Gafurova, who has since left Russia.

Gafurova added that “Authorities don’t just want to erase us from the public field: they want to ban us as a social group. It’s a pretty typical move for repressive non-democratic regimes — the persecution of the most vulnerable.”

Gafurova added, “We will continue our fight.”

Out of 49 European countries, the Rainbow Europe organization ranked Russia third from bottom in terms of tolerance for LGBTQ+ people.

Archbishop justifies LGBT flags on coffins in Mexican cathedral

The vice president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Gustavo Rodríguez Vega, has justified the draping of LGBT flags on the coffins of a nonbinary activist and their partner during their funeral held in the Aguascalientes cathedral. The action has, according to the Catholic News Agency, “caused scandal among the faithful” and created a furor within the church in Mexico.

The caskets were covered with the flags during the funeral Mass of the nonbinary judge and activist Jesús Ociel Baena and their partner, Dorian Herrera, which was held on the morning of Nov. 14.

Both bodies were found with indications of violence inside Baena’s house on Nov. 13. The attorney general’s office of Aguascalientes state reported in a statement posted on Facebook that day that “everything indicates that it could be a personal matter” since “a sharp instrument” was found in the hands of one of the deceased. As PGN reported, it appeared that Herrera murdered Baena and then took his own life.

In a press conference held Nov. 16 to address the controversy, Rodríguez, who is also the archbishop of Yucatán, pointed out that Baena and his partner are “children of God and our brothers” and so “we could not, in any way, not receive them in the church. Especially when the family wanted them to be taken there [the Aguascalientes cathedral].”

When asked by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, about the placement of the flags, the archbishop commented that “if they place those flags, which meant so much to them, well, we respect that.”

He said, “There is no problem because there was no intention to offend anyone. They are also welcome to all the services that the Church can offer.”

In a Nov. 15 interview with ACI Prensa, Father Francisco Torres Ruiz, an expert in liturgy of the Diocese of Plasencia in Spain, explained that “it’s not permissible to put any type of symbology at funeral Masses, especially when that symbology represents ideologies contrary to Christian anthropology, that is, when they are against the faith.”

“What is admitted is, when a head of state or a soldier is buried, who have their own protocol, putting the national flag, the flag of the country, on the coffin. But never a flag that detracts from the sacred place that is a church.”

He explained, “Nor can any other symbol or photo of the deceased be placed during the funeral celebration, because in the church the only images, the only photos or icons, are always those of the saints or the diocesan bishop or of the pope, but never that of the deceased who is being buried.”

Baena made history as the first openly nonbinary person to assume a judicial post in Mexico, where Baena became a magistrate in the Aguascalientes state electoral court.

Baena was a political and LGBTQ+ activist who used they/them pronouns and was renowned for their work to advance the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. An investigation into Baena’s death is ongoing.

Newsletter Sign-up