Queerness as Extremism: The Assault on LGBTQ+ Rights in Russia

Thursday, February 22, 2024 Denys Holland Lecture Theatre Bentham House Endsleigh Gardens London WC1H 0EG

Talk overview: In November 2023, Russia outlawed the so-called ‘international LGBT movement’ as extremist. The decision followed a recent anti-trans ban and the extension of the ‘anti-gay propaganda law’ in 2022. These decisions are the result of more than a decade of consistent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, which scholars have called Vladimir Putin’s ‘war on queerness’.

What does the extremist designation mean for the LGBTQ+ community in Russia? To answer this question, Olga Doletskaya, an anthropologist studying contemporary queer lives in Russia, will contextualise the anti-LGBTQ+ crackdown by looking at Russia’s recent queer history. Is Russia’s homophobia a biproduct of its authoritarianism? How is ‘gay propaganda’ tied to Putin’s claims to power? And, more importantly, what can we learn from a century of repression: are there strategies of resistance that the queer community has developed over the years?

Speaker: Olga Doletskaya

Speaker bio: Olga Doletskaya is a PhD Candidate at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES). Her research investigates the realities of queer family-building in Russia and the consequences of anti-queer legislation on parenthood. Olga holds an MSc in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh, where her research concerned surrogacy and assisted reproduction. Her current research interests include ‘alternative’ families, LGBTQ kinship and parenthood, and queer history.

This SSEESing event is part of the TMT Lecture Series. This series ­– a collaboration between The Moscow Times (Russia’s oldest independent media outlet) and top global universities – provides a platform for experts and professionals to inform a range of audiences about what is going on inside Russia following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Alexander Gubsky – publisher of The Moscow Times – will provide more details about the series at the start of the event.

The event will be chaired by Dr Ben Noble, Associate Professor of Russian Politics.

Image credit: The rainbow flag waving in the wind at San Francisco's Castro District, Wikimedia

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