In Russia, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (lgbtq+) people face legal and social challenges not experienced by others. Although sexual activity between same-sex couples has been legal since 1993, homosexuality is disapproved of by most Russians, and same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are ineligible for the legal protections available to opposite-sex couples. Russia provides no anti-discrimination protections for lgbtq+ people, nor does it prohibit hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Transgender people are allowed to change their legal gender without requiring sex reassignment surgery; however, there are currently no laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression, and recent laws could discriminate against transgender residents. Homosexuality has been declassified as a mental illness and although gay and lesbian individuals are legally not allowed to serve openly in the military, there is a de facto policy.
Russia has long held strongly negative views regarding homosexuality, with recent polls indicating that a majority of Russians are against the acceptance of homosexuality and have shown support for laws discriminating against homosexuals. Despite receiving international criticism for the recent increase in social discrimination, crimes, and violence against homosexuals, larger cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg have been said to have a thriving lgbtq+ community. However, there has been a historic resistance to gay pride parades by local governments; despite being fined by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 for interpreting it as discrimination, the city of Moscow denied 100 individual requests for permission to hold Moscow Pride through 2012, citing a risk of violence against participants.
Since 2006, regions in Russia have enacted varying laws restricting the distribution of materials promoting lgbtq+ relationships to minors; in June 2013, a federal law criminalizing the distribution of materials among minors in support of non-traditional sexual relationships was enacted as an amendment to an existing child protection law. The law has resulted in the numerous arrests of Russian lgbtq+ citizens publicly opposing the law and there has reportedly been a surge of anti-gay protests, violence, and even hate crimes. It has received international criticism from human rights observers, lgbtq+ activists, and media outlets and has been viewed as a de facto means of criminalizing lgbtq+ culture. The law was ruled to be inconsistent with protection of freedom of expression by the European Court of Human Rights but as of 2021 has not been repealed.
In a report issued on 13 April 2017, a panel of five expert advisors to the United Nations Human Rights Council—Vitit Muntarbhorn, Sètondji Roland Adjovi; Agnès Callamard; Nils Melzer; and David Kaye—condemned the wave of torture and killings of gay men in Chechnya.
Gay Moscow is definitely a place worth experiencing. If you are looking for a more mixed nightlife, this is the place to go. Although Moscow may not have many clubs dedicated to gay people only, they have some of the best gay nights at the hottest clubs in Russia. Don’t let the stigma of Russia’s rigid political ideals sway you away from this lively city. The locals are always down to blow off some steam, so make sure to check out some of the cruising areas as well!