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Sergey Katsuba

Sergey Katsuba

Supervisors: Dr Sara Benedi Lahuerta, Dr Alexander Kondakov (School of Sociology)

Email: sergey.katsuba@ucdconnect.ie

Thesis Title: Institutionalized discrimination as an authoritarian practice: a case of legislating heteronormativity in Russia

The level of hate crimes against LGBTQ is on the rise in Russia. This issue is closely connected with the introduction of the so-called “gay propaganda law” in 2013. This legal act introduced fines for “promoting non-traditional sexual relationships”, the definition of “promotion” adopted by the law is vague, leading to its interpretation by the Russian law enforcement and judiciary being very broad. Some examples of cases to which the law was applied include fines for actions such as waving a rainbow flag, public discussion of homosexuality, screening of gay-themed movies, and providing psychological help to homosexual individuals through support groups. The case law is so diverse that the only pattern that can be observed is the restriction of positive or neutral expressions pertaining to LGBTQ (negative expressions are not restricted). Therefore, the “gay propaganda law” represents a blanket ban, a symbolic message to the LGBTQ community.

The emergence of the “gay propaganda law” is closely related to the progression of the authoritarian regime in Russia, the rhetoric of nationalism, and a turn to the so-called “traditional values” that was especially apparent after 2010 as a part of a global trend of autocratization.

The “gay propaganda law” increased the level of violence against LGBTQ. The Russian authorities do not recognize homophobic hate crimes and do not monitor them. The research used online public databases of court rulings to find cases of violence against LGBTQ people and generate statistics on them.

The research project established that:

  • Homophobic violence is on the rise in Russia after the “gay propaganda law”
  • Between 2010 and 2020 the research managed to identify 1056 hate crimes committed against 853 individuals with 365 fatalities. The number of crimes after the “gay propaganda law” is three times higher than before.
  • The data that was generated by the project is the only reliable data on homophobic violence in Russia and the method will be applied on a continuous basis.
  • Unique methodology of monitoring hate crime against LGBTQ people based on criminal court rulings was developed.

The research project has been ongoing since 2016 and has affected the way people see hate crimes against LGBTQ in Russia. It is understood not as a series of isolated crimes but as a systematic problem, a product of state-sponsored institutionalized homophobia. Year after year the research has been providing more insights into the reality of this system and the everyday violence against LGBTQ people that was produced by it.


Sergei Katsuba is a PhD Candidate at the Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin (UCD). He graduated with a degree in law from the Buryat State University in Ulan-Ude, Russia. He then completed a two years Master’s program at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan.

Sergei’s research is in the area of freedom of expression, autocratization in Russia, LGBTQ rights, and hate crimes against LGBTQ in Russia. Sergei is developing a system of monitoring the hate crimes against LGBTQ in Russia. To date, the research project was able to identify more than 1000 hate crimes against LGBTQ in Russia. In 2022 the data on hate crimes generated by the research was submitted to the OSCE as a part of the annual civil society submission on hate crime incidents in Russia.

Sergei has a keen interest in the areas of Human Rights Law, International Law, and the study of authoritarianism.

In 2022 the research project was awarded UCD Research Impact Award (runners-up).


UCD Sutherland School of Law

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.