– This is an example of arbitrary use of the law to silence another brave voice from the civil society, says Mina Skouen, Head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committees department for Sexual and Gender Diversity.
– Yulias crime is speaking up for body positivity, against normative gender roles and for fundamental rights and freedoms for the LGBT persons. Because of this she has already been under house arrest for more than three months, without access to adequate health care.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, together with 9 other organizations from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium have issued a joint statement asking that all charges be dropped and for Yulia to be released from her house arrest.
– We have issued this statement because of the gravity of the situation. We fear Yulia will face a long prison sentence for simply exercising her right to freedom of expression, Skouen explains.
– She has faced harassment and obstruction to her work on several occasions, both by the authorities and hate groups.
In march 2019, she had to cancel a play she was directing because of security risks. Also, while being the manager at the youth theatre “Merak”, the local police started an investigation, searching for proof that the theatre was spreading “gay propaganda” – a play that promoted anti-bullying and equality.
At the moment her name figures on the death list of the notorious hate group “Pila”, where the late activist Elena Grigoryevas was also named before she was brutally murdered in St. Petersburg in 2019.
Fined for so-called “gay propaganda”
The activist has already been proven guilty for “promoting non-traditional sexual relations to minors” where she was fined 50.000 rubles for being the administrator for two social media accounts that promotes feminism and LGBT rights. The verdict stated that both groups violate the so-called “gay propaganda” law, even though all content is marked 18+.
Yulias house arrest was imposed 23 November 2019 after she posted drawings of female genitalia on social media, to challenge taboos linked to vaginal anatomy and menstruation. She faces criminal charges under paragraph 242.3, which concerns “production and distribution of pornographic material”.
Russian legislation violates human rights
The signatories to the statement ask Russian authorities to stop arbitrary use of penal code 242.3 to silence people who identify as LGBT or who speak up for the LGBT community. At least two more cases have been opened on the same grounds within the last year.
Finally the signatories demand that the notorious law prohibiting so-called “gay propaganda” being repealed, as it violates international human rights.
– Since the law was adopted on federal level in 2013, hate crimes against LGBT-people in Russia have drastically risen. The law contributes to increased violence and stigmatization of a part of Russian society that are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations, Skouen concludes.