Government Regulation and Hate Speech are Not Entirely Antithetical


Two Russian courts have handed down the first convictions of what the government calls an “international LGBT social movement,” which it was deemed extremist last year.

On Thursday, a court in the southern region of Volgograd found a man guilty of “displaying the symbols of an extremist organization” after he posted a photograph of an LGBT flag online, according to the court’s press service(Papachristou, 2024)

Figure 2: People take part in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community rally “VIII St.Petersburg Pride” in St. Petersburg, Russia August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/File Photo

The Supreme Court of Russia banned the LGBT movement in the nation on November 30, 2023, ruling that it was an extremist movement. The following day, Moscow’s nightclubs, men’s saunas, and bars were raided by Russian security personnel.The Russian Supreme Court deemed the global LGBT movement to be a terrorist organization on March 22, 2024.

Before this, different laws restricting the distribution of materials promoting LGBT relationships to minors have been enacted in various regions of Russia since 2006, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. In June 2013, a federal law was enacted as an amendment to the child protection law, making it illegal to distribute materials supporting non-traditional sexual relationships to minors. Numerous Russian LGBT persons who have spoken out against the bill have been arrested as a result of the law, and there has reportedly been an increase in anti-gay protests, violence, and even hate crimes. It has been criticized by international human rights watchers, LGBT activists, and the media, and is seen as a defacto means of criminalizing LGBT culture. The law was ruled by the European Court of Human Rights to be inconsistent with the protection of freedom of expression, but as of 2021 it has not been repealed. In 2022, the law was expanded to apply to people of any age, making any speech deemed to promote non-traditional sexual relationships illegal. On November 30, 2023, the Supreme Court of Russia ruled that the international LGBT movement was extremist and outlawed it in the country. On March 22, 2024, the Supreme Court of Russia declared the international LGBT movement a terrorist organization.

Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Russia have doubled in five years following the introduction of a law banning “gay propaganda,” according to researchers in Moscow (Thomson Reuters Foundation).

Murders accounted for nearly 200 of the 250 crimes analyzed, according to the Independent Center for Social Research, and attributed the spike in crime to Russia’s 2013 ban on spreading “propaganda about non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors. “It seems to them that, to some extent, the government supports their actions. Many perpetrators openly talk about their crimes as noble deeds.(Daria Litvinova, 2017)”.

Hate speech and hate crime

Hate speech has been defined as speech that ‘expresses, encourages, stirs up, or incites hatred against a group of individuals distinguished by a particular feature or set of features such as race, ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, and sexual orientation’ (Parekh, 2012, p. 40). Hate speech goes against human rights principles, and the scope for its circulation has increased exponentially in the online world (Parekh, 2012, p. 40). Hate speech can often be more of an expression of one’s personal distaste for a particular group than a direct call to action. This helps the hate speech spread, connects the speaker to other groups on an emotional level, and increases opposition to the targeted group. Digital and social media platforms serve as the primary venues for hate speech in today’s culture. Furthermore, the rules and laws of the government also mirror the mindset of the government. The rise in hate speech directed towards LGBTQ individuals on the Internet and social media platforms is a result of the Russian government’s anti-LGBT laws and policies. This hate speech not only mirrors the views of the government and the majority of the population, but also escalates and becomes hate crimes. As mentioned above, in 2013, Russia introduced a law prohibiting “gay propaganda,” which led to a spike in the number of gay hate crimes against homosexuals, reflecting the sometimes discriminatory nature of government regulation and the increase in hate speech and hate crimes.

Hate crime also known a bias crime is crime where a perpetrator targets a victim because of their physical appearance or perceived membership of a certain social group(Skoczylis & Andrews, 2022). In addition, as a result of the policy’s backing, there will be a rise in hate speech and an increase in people’s anti-homophobic and homophobic psychological traits, all of which will contribute to the progressive maturation of hate crimes. Premeditated and organized crime against homosexuality has surfaced in Russia: dating violence. Dating violence is a specific method of committing hate crimes against LGBTQ people when perpetrators use dating services in order to select and target homosexual victims(Sergey Katsuba, 2023).

Figure 3: Number of hate crimes against LGBTQ people in Russia (2010—2020) (Source: Katsuba, 2023)
Figure 4: Hate crimes against LGBTQ people in Russia by category (Source: Katsuba, 2023)

The link between national policies and the level of hate crimes against discriminated groups becomes apparent when they are part of the same process. The progression of prejudice is a theoretical model that can be traced back to the Allport scale of the manifestation of prejudice in society (1954). Allport scale described the progression in 4 steps – verbal rejection (includes antilocution (hate speech) and avoidance), discrimination (by way of introducing discriminatory policies), physical attack (violence against the group), and finally, extermination, with discrimination being a decisive step on the way to violence (Allport, 1954, p. 58). Allport’s model describes different stages of prejudice towards groups of people in society. The model appears to be linear, but in fact, all stages can be present in society at the same time. In that sense, the most important takeaway of the Allport scale is that “the activity on one level makes the transition to a new level easier” (Allport, 1954, p. 15).In this sense, hate speech and hate crimes, along with some degree of violence, are always present in society. However, hate speech and hate crimes will increase in response to increased discrimination, such as that which results from the introduction of discriminatory legislation. It might also demonstrate that hate speech and government regulation are not invariably mutually exclusive and that the former may even be a contributing factor in the latter.

Who are responsible for the increase in hate speech and hate crimes against the LGBTQ community

As mentioned above, since 2006, the Russian government has enacted a series of laws and policies aimed at the LGBTQ community. There are many other influencing factors.

Russia and Western countries have different socio-historical backgrounds and ideologies, and the promulgation of relevant laws for LGBTQ groups reflects the ideological game and struggle between Russia and Western countries. In addition, in 2022, the Russian-Ukrainian war broke out. As Putin tries to consolidate support for his war in Ukraine, the Russian president clearly believes there is value in creating heroes and villains in Russian society: in this case, traditional masculine males who join up as heroes and LGBTQ people who are set up to provide a counterpoint as villains(Kondakov, 2023). When the government promulgates laws and policies to supervise, it is affected by many factors, such as political economy, history and culture, and even war.

The anti – LGBTQ community incident in Russia demonstrates how the government is increasingly regulating particular groups or social media and digital platforms, and how many elements influence the government’s policy formation. While putting these marginalized groups front and centre may help the public understand and support them, visibility also has a double-edged effect: while marginalized people may not be embraced and included, they may also be watched over and controlled. An increase in radicals could lead to hate speech or perhaps hate crimes. The public discourse in this process is primarily carried out by digital platforms and social media. People’s private information is becoming more visible and accessible on social media sites. Individuals “disclose” their sexual orientation and views on sexuality in response to arguments for or against “freedom of speech” beliefs. They could become the targets of violence because of their actions.

Prejudice and hate speech have increased in discussions about minorities like the LGBTQ community on digital platforms due to the rapid development of social media and digital platforms, the cross-use of major social media platforms, the growth of user groups, and the difficulty of users in defining the difference between free speech and hate speech. The duty to lessen hate speech and hate crimes also comes on social media and digital platforms.

How to address issues related to hate speech and hate crimes

Governments and digital platforms are the two key players in the fight against hate speech and hate crimes.

Governments should pass laws and regulations that clearly forbid discriminatory, hateful, and hurtful speech, particularly directed towards groups like those based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
In order to counter hate speech and hate crimes, the government should also work more closely with social media companies.

The ability of digital platforms to gather and integrate data has improved significantly in recent times, and their functions have also expanded covertly. However, the impact these platforms have on social development is growing and is difficult to define and divide due to conflicts of interest. It is also challenging to assign responsibilities and find solutions to a variety of issues in digital media platforms. For the historical, cultural, and ideological reasons outlined above, the state has created laws and policies that represent its interests and preferences; similarly, the growth of social media and digital platforms reflects the state’s own interests and preferences.  This also shows that it is difficult to draw boundaries and define the responsibility of a single individual for solving many social problems.

The first step for digital platforms should be to establish guidelines and testimonies that specify what hate speech is and expressly forbid its publishing and spread. For instance, hate speech is tracked and minimized via keyword targeting and search. Hateful remarks about religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other topics are among them, but they’re not the only ones.
Secondly, offer a system for reporting and providing comments. It is encouraged for social media users to report hate speech, and the platform’s specialized moderation team will investigate any reports submitted by users.
Be open-minded and cooperative. Social media companies can collaborate with NGOs and governmental bodies to stop the spread of hate speech. Besides, to actively respond to and address hate speech and hate crimes across various digital channels, digital platforms collaborate with one another.

Because people in human society have always been tightly tied to one another, to organizations, and to a variety of other elements, organizing a particular social event should involve several parties working together to find a solution.


Although government control is not always incompatible with the emergence of hate speech, it can occasionally result in a rise in hate crimes and hate speech. The state and government’s laws and policies are strongly influenced by a number of elements, including foreign affairs, ideology, social and historical context, and national circumstances. Nonetheless, there are numerous connections between the application of laws and policies and hate speech and crimes, and the rise in hate crimes and hate speech directed at a certain group can influence the laws and policies that are in place. Digital platforms have an impact on the advancement of human society as a means of speech transmission.

Since the development of human society and digital platforms, various factors in social development are closely linked and influence each other, and people cannot be separated from digital platforms. All parties should make joint efforts to strengthen collaborative management on the basis of self-management, and jointly promote the development of science and technology and the development of human society.


Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Daria Litvinova, D. (2017, November 22). LGBT hate crimes double in Russia after ban on “gay propaganda.” Https://

Ellis, J. (2023, May 15). Our hybrid media system has emboldened anti-LGBTQ+ hate – what can we do about it? The Conversation.

Flew, T. (2021). Regulating Platforms. Polity Press.

Kondakov, A. S. (2023, June 16). Ukraine war: how Putin’s anti-LGBTQ+ agenda is an attempt to build support for the invasion. The Conversation.

Novitskaya, A., Sperling, V., Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom, & Janet Elise Johnson. (2023). Unpacking “Traditional Values” in Russia’s Conservative Turn: Gender, Sexuality and the Soviet Legacy. 1–25.

Papachristou, L. (2024, February 2). (J. Davison, Ed.). Https://

Sergey Katsuba. (2023). Premeditated, Organized and Impactful: Dating Violence as a Method of Committing Hate Crimes Against LGBTQ People in Russia. Journal of Family Violence.

Skoczylis, J., & Andrews, S. (2022). Strain theory, resilience, and far-right extremism: the impact of gender, life experiences and the internet. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 15(1), 1–26.

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