Back to top

‘Traditional values’ restrict minority and LGBTQ+ expression

Across Europe, citing patriotism and ‘traditional values’, members of right-wing groups have been vocal and active against women’s rights activists, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ people. There has not been effective investigation into these incidents.

A Russian member of parliament known for his support of ‘traditional values’ phoned the police to claim that hostages had been taken, causing police to evacuate the venue of an LGBTQ+ film festival, Side by Side, and disrupting the opening ceremony in Saint Petersburg.[1]

Marches on International Women’s Day were attacked in three different cities in Ukraine, with police reportedly standing by.[2] Instead of investigating attacks on peaceful protesters, the authorities charged the organiser of the Kyiv march with inappropriately using state symbols.[3] The case was later dropped.

LGBTQ+ rights defenders continued to be targeted in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine.[4] Turkey’s courts backed the governor of Ankara’s decision to ban LGBTQ+ events in the region.[5]

A year after Chechnya’s anti-gay ‘purge’, the victims of the organised violence – which law-enforcement officers carried out – have seen no justice; no criminal cases have been opened, and no high-level Russian officials have acknowledged or condemned the violence. Victims allege they were detained, tortured, and forced to ‘out’ fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community.

In recent years, Russia has pushed its ‘traditional values’ agenda and introduced a raft of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, including a ‘gay propaganda’ law under which, in May, authorities blocked ParniPlus – a website that raises awareness about the HIV epidemic among gay men.

In Kazakhstan (ranked 134th), LGBTQ+ and women’s rights activist Zhanar Sekerbayeva was arrested in Almaty after she and a women’s group called Feminita picketed to highlight the taboo of menstruation in the country’s conservative culture. One placard showed a woman menstruating over a collection of yurts. The judge subjected Sekerbayeva to a series of invasive, irrelevant personal questions. She was found guilty of ‘minor hooliganism’ and fined.[6]


[1] Front Line Defenders, Global Analysis 2018, 7 January 2019, available at

[2] Front Line Defenders, Letter to Ukrainian Authorities on Recent Attacks on HRDs in Ukraine, 14 June 2018, available at

[3] ARTICLE 19, Ukraine: Drop Charges of ‘Offending National Symbols’ Against Human Rights Activist, 14 March 2018, available at; see also Freedom House, Ukraine: Authorities Should Respond to Attacks Targeting Peaceful Demonstrations, 14 March 2018, available at

[4] Front Line Defenders, Global Analysis 2018, 7 January 2019, available at

[5] BiaNet NewsDesk, ‘Courts approve bans of LGBTI events’, Bianet, 22 February 2018, available at

[6] Almaz Kumenov, ‘Kazakhstan: Activist fined over menstruation picket’, EurasiaNet, 21 August 2018, available at