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LGBTQIA+ Studies Resources: Russian Federation: Home

What's in this guide?

Silhouette map of the Russian Federation as a rainbow flag

This guide is an in-progress attempt at a bibliography of resources for LGBTQIA+ studies of the Russian Federation, focusing on primary sources and content produced by LGBTQIA+ creators from Russia and on materials held by, or accessible from, University Libraries of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (including materials held at TRLN Libraries).

The Russian Federation has had a long history of escalating anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation. Soviet-era sodomy laws were repealed in 1993, but by 2000s, a series of municipal and regional discriminatory laws against “gay propaganda” and protecting “traditional values” began to be passed, starting with Riazan’ in 2006. This legislation made it to the national level in 2013, with the federal “gay propaganda” ban prohibiting the dissemination of any information about LGBTQIA+ topics to minors and a child adoption band for LGBTQIA+ people. Notably, the need to protect “traditional values” formed an important part of Russia’s 2015 National Security Strategy. The 2020 constitutional amendment defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Following the Russian Federation's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, a number of content creators listed here have left the country. Some continue to produce new content, albeit in a different context. In November 2022, the Russian parliament adopted a new ban on "Propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations and/or preferences and sex change", prohibiting the dissemination of any information about LGBTQIA+ topics to people of any age, on the internet, in mass media, books, film/video, audiovisual services, or advertisements. The bill was signed into law and took effect in December 2022. An anti-trans law banning gender-affirming care and changes to the gender marker in passports followed in July 2023. On November 30, 2023, the Russian Supreme Court declared what they called an "international LGBT movement" an "extremist organization" and banned their activity in Russia. First arrests and criminal persecution (of club employees in Orenburg) under this ruling occurred in March 2024. We can only expect more severe legislation to follow, including criminalization of homosexuality altogether.

Consequently, much of the content listed in this guide can be considered endangered, and some online content is vanishing even as I write these words as it gets blocked by the Russian media policing agency Roskomnadzor, dropped by hosting providers, or taken down by creators themselves in acts of self-censorship for self-preservation. Apologies in advance for any dead links, I will attempt to update as I can, but your first line of defense is to check if the resource has been archived in Wayback Machine.

Despite this hostile environment, LGBTQIA+ people are, of course, everywhere in the Russian Federation, and continue to live, love, work, and create. There is much content to explore within this guide, including records of inspiring activism, a rich creative writing tradition, an extensive corpus of podcasts, films, zines, internet resources, and more.

Image credit: Image by Arvey at Dutch Wikipedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

A note on terminology

I use the term "LGBTQIA+" in the narrative and annotations of this guide, except when translating a name of an organization or a publication into English. The most common Russian language terms used by the community (as of 2023) are "ЛГБТ" or "ЛГБТ+", though other variants (e.g. ЛГБТК) can be encountered.


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Kirill Tolpygo
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