Russian police raid gay bars in Moscow, local media reports

Moscow, Russia - Police in Moscow targeted multiple gay-friendly nightclubs and a men's sauna in what appeared to be simultaneous raids, local media outlets said Saturday.

Russian riot police detained gay rights activists during World Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Saint Petersburg on May 17, 2019. Police in Moscow recently targeted multiple gay-friendly nightclubs and a men's sauna in what appeared to be simultaneous raids, local media outlets said Saturday.
Russian riot police detained gay rights activists during World Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Saint Petersburg on May 17, 2019. Police in Moscow recently targeted multiple gay-friendly nightclubs and a men's sauna in what appeared to be simultaneous raids, local media outlets said Saturday.  © Olga MALTSEVA / AFP

The raids come two days after Russia's Supreme Court labeled what it calls the "international LGBT movement" as "extremist," in a move rights groups warned could precede a wider crackdown.

Police could be seen standing at the entrance of a nightclub on Malaya Yakimanka Street, where a large dance party was taking place, video from the Ostorozhno Novosti news outlet showed.

"In the middle of the party, they stopped the music and [police] began going into the lounges," one eyewitness told the outlet, who said officers were taking photos of their passports.

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At least three bars were targeted overnight by law enforcement, the SOTA news outlet reported, while Ostorozhno Novosti said a men's sauna in central Moscow was also raided.

Late Friday evening, St Petersburg's Central Station, one of the oldest gay clubs in the city, announced it was closing due to the Supreme Court's decision.

Russia had already outlawed "LGBT propaganda" among all adults last year, effectively banning the representation of LGBTQ people in public and in the media.

Cover photo: Olga MALTSEVA / AFP

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