Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Russia LGBTI Resources


(See Below for Case Law, Evidence of Public Attitudes, NGOs that Assist or Advocate on LGBTI issues, and Country of Origin LGBTI Specialists) 

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993 and is legal throughout the Russian Federation, apart from Chechnya, where the maximum penalty under Sharia Law is death.

Russian law does not mention gender identity or sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination or incitement of hatred or violence (Shabanova, Maria, “Rights of LBGT Minorities in Russian Law and Practice”, in Russia and the EU: Uneasy Relations, A Look from Belgium, (2009): 190 – 196). The only current mention of homosexuality in Russian law at the federal level is in Articles 131 and 132 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Article 131 refers to heterosexual rape and article 132 refers to “non-consensual sexual intercourse between people of the same gender”; the same punishment applies in both cases.

Since 2006, a number of cities and provinces in Russia have adopted prohibitions on “homosexual propaganda” to minors, which incur administrative fines. These bans were used as the basis for a law passed at the federal level on July 2013 by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The bill bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” 

Criminal Code of the Russian Federation

Chapter 18. Crimes Against the Sexual Inviolability and Sexual Freedom of the Person

Article 131: Rape

Rape, that is sexual relations with the use of violence or with the threat of its use against a victim or other persons, or in taking advantage of the victim's helpless condition, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of three to six years.

Article 132: Violent Sexual Actions

Pederasty, lesbianism, or any other sexual actions with the use of violence or with the threat of its use against the victim or against other persons, or with the taking advantage of the helpless condition of the victim, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of three to six years.

Proposed Federal Legislation, Legal Committee of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly (11 November, 2011): On Introduction of Changes into St. Petersburg Law “On Administrative Offences in St. Petersburg”. To amend with articles 71 and 72 with the following content:

“Article 71. Public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderness amongst minors

Public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderness amongst minors incur imposition of fine on citizens in the amount from one to three thousand rubles; on officials – from three to five thousand rubles; on legal entities – from ten to fifty thousand rubles.

Nonetheless, repeated attempts to re-criminalize homosexual behavior at the federal level have been made in recent years. The most recent attempt took place in November 2011 when a so-called “gay propaganda” law was proposed in a bill introduced in the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly. The bill proposes changes to St. Petersburg Law on “Administrative Offences in St. Petersburg”. The proposed law will prohibit the “propaganda” of “sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism, and pedophilia to minors”. Public actions deemed as such will incur a penalty of one to three thousand rubles for civilians. This amendment would violate an array of civil and political rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom of speech, by inhibiting the LGBTI community’s ability to organize and by prosecuting LGBT individuals who are open about their sexuality in public. Similar laws have already been adopted regionally in the Ryazan and Arkhangelsk oblast, two regions of the Russian Federation.


Alla Konstantinova Pitcherskaia v. Immigration and Naturalization Service

John Doe v. Eric H. Holder, Nov. 27, 2013


The level of homophobia is high and Russian human rights organizations report numerous instances of hate crimes against LGBT persons. The State’s capacity to protect is lacking in this regard as there are no legal mechanisms in place by which to report these offenses (Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2011. Study of Homophobia, Transphobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Sociological Report: Russian Federation, p. 3 of 41). Freedom of expression is also violated through State actions. The federal “gay propaganda” law and similar bans previously enacted in cities and regional provinces across Russia blatantly criminalize LGBT individuals who openly express their sexual orientation.

 The decriminalization of same-sex relations has made it more difficult to use gender identity or sexual orientation as grounds for asylum. As such, most of these cases have been rejected (Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2011, p. 28 of 41).

Apart from the regional and federal laws banning the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors, gay pride parades and rallies have been banned in Moscow and other cities and violent attacks on LGBTQ individuals are becoming alarmingly commonplace. LGBT individuals are offered little State protection or public acceptance and continue to suffer chronic violations of fundamental human rights.


*We have contacted these organizations but we have not yet received responses from any of them.

Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights

Khokhlovsky pereulok 16, str.1, 4th floor
109028 Moscow
Tel: +7 495 916 1006

Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights is a Russian public policy and advocacy NGO, established in 1998. The Center‘s mission is the development of effective democratic institutions and sustainable mechanisms of human rights protection by influencing public policy in these areas, creating conditions for civic participation in decision making from the level of local communities to the international level and empowering individuals and groups to play a more active role in positive social change. The Center strives to make democracy work for people living in Russia and to assist them in filling democracy with a practical meaning relevant for their lives. CDDHR conducts public policy analysis, monitoring, public education, and advocacy campaigns on a broad range of human rights and democracy issues, including freedoms of association and assembly, security of human rights defenders, racism and xenophobia, human rights in the army, and links between corruption and human rights abuse.

Wings – Association for the Defense of Homosexuals

191186 St. Petersburg, PO Box 108
Tel: +781-23-12-31-80

The Association began to work on behalf of gays and lesbians in the summer of 1990. It took nearly a year to gain official recognition for the organization. On October 9, 1991, after a year of court battles, it became the first officially registered homosexual group in the Soviet Union. The activities of the group include not only human rights casework, but also designing social support programs and organizing cultural events for the homosexual community. Since the repeal of the anti-sodomy law in 1994, the main focus of the group’s work has turned toward eradicating the extreme and often violent problem of homophobia in Russia. The group has received a significant amount of press coverage in newspapers and on radio and television. The group sees public education on the nature of homosexuality as a key element in their work, especially given the lack of exposure most of the population has had to the homosexual community.

International Society for Human Rights – Russia

103715 Moscow4 Slavyanskaya Plotted, Str. 1
Tel: +795-924-47-01
Email: infoatishr [dot] org; inter-societyatmtu-net [dot] ru

The International Society for Human Rights advocates human rights and international adherence to the principles embodied in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, focusing on issues of freedoms of opinion and expression, movement, religion, information and association…. SHR provides direct support and assistance to victims of human rights abuses and their families through social assistance programs. This comes in various forms, from legal services to donations of food, clothing and medical supplies. ISHR also participates in legislative reform and development through offering consultation to state bodies on ways to improve protection of human rights. Under the auspices of their international office, ISHR conducts investigations into individual cases of human rights violations and undertakes more general research into critical situations where human rights are believed to be in danger.

Russian Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights

191194 St. Petersburgul. Chaikovskogo 28, kom. 31
Tel: +7 812-272-49-61

Founded in 1991, the Russian Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights was formed by a group of Russian lawyers with the intent of moving the Russian legal system closer to the international standard with regard to the protection of human rights…. The Committee currently works on individual cases of human rights violations, providing inexpensive (or in some cases pro bono) legal services to individuals and other human rights-related NGOs. The Committee regularly consults with state and judicial bodies on the creation and modification of Russian laws governing human rights issues. In recent years, the Committee has provided detailed analysis and commentary on new legislation at both the federal and local levels, stressing the need to meet international standards of legal protection of rights. The group has also arranged for professional training programs for lawyers and human rights activists as well as public education on legal aspects of human rights protection. The Committee holds several seminars and lectures in Moscow and St. Petersburg throughout the year.

Memorial-International Historical-Cultural, Human Rights and Charitable Society

12 Maliy Karetnyi 127051 Moscow
Tel: +795-200-65-06 (Human Rights Center)
Email: memorialatglas [dot] apc [dot] org

Soon after it began its work commemorating the victims of political repression, the group expanded its work to include related historical and cultural research, human rights monitoring and providing humanitarian assistance to certain groups of the population (mainly pensioners)….The human rights aspect of Memorial’s work today includes some individual casework, but mainly focuses on sending professional fact-finding missions to areas of armed conflict and ethnic strife in the former Soviet Union. Recently, research trips have been made to Chechnya, Transcaucasia and Moldova. Memorial has also begun work to develop human rights education programs with assistance from Amnesty International and other international organizations.

Human Rights Charitable Society: "Right to Life and Human Dignity"

103982 Moscow
4 Louchnikov per., kom. 19
Tel: +795-206-85-89
Email: vkyatco [dot] ru

This society was founded in 1990 in order to oppose the use of capital punishment in the former USSR and other gross violations of the right to life. The group uses as its guiding principle Articles 3 and 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights….The Society provides legal assistance to those facing the death penalty. The group also participates in various humanitarian projects in prisons. Direct charitable aid is provided on a case-by-case basis to socially unprotected categories of the population through donations of basic goods (food, clothing, etc.). The Society also monitors human rights, especially in the legal process of capital cases.

Amnesty International Russia

121019 Moscow G-19
PO Box 212
Tel: +795-291-29-04
Email: amintglasnetatglas [dot] apc [dot] org 

Amnesty International is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works for: the release of prisoners of conscience -- men, women and children imprisoned for their race, color, sex, ethnic origin, sexual preference, or the non-violent expression of their beliefs; abolition of the death penalty and the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment; securing fair and prompt trials for political prisoners.


We have no specialist on LGBTI for the Russian Federation, but would welcome suggestions.

Country-of-origin information to support the adjudication of asylum claims from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (‘LGBTI’) asylum-seekers (Asylum Research Consultancy)


Researched by: Lana Sytnik