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Sergey Katsuba

Sergey Katsuba

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

Email: (opens in a new window)sergey.katsuba@ucdconnect.ie

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SergeiKatsuba

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

How does law work in authoritarian states, what role does it play and how does it affect lives of ordinary people? In autocracies law is increasingly used as an instrument of power to consolidate the regime, which leads to a gradual decline of the rule of law and democratic institutions. This constitutes a form of political decay. When it happens, the adoption of authoritarian legislation produces negative societal consequences and affects lives of marginalized communities.

One example of that is institutional discrimination - an authoritarian practice that creates inequalities and conditions for political scapegoating of specific groups of people. Institutional discrimination of LGBTQ people is common in authoritarian regimes, it is employed to strengthen the regime and is often done through legal means by introducing discriminatory legal norms. By using legislation that way, authoritarian leaders are able to conceal authoritarian practices under the pretence of legality. These norms are of questionable legal nature and are dangerous as they increase level of hatred and enmity towards the group. It results in negative societal outcomes that can be observed in the emergence of different kinds of violence against the group (physical attacks, collective violence by non-state actors, collective violence by state actors, attempts to extermination, mass atrocities and genocide).

My research explores institutional discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in Russia through three dimensions:

  • Political – I draw the connection between the persecution of LGBTQ people and the authoritarian regime in Russia. This includes analysing the legislative politics of the Russian Parliament and how the product of lawmaking was affected by the deterioration of democracy in 2011-2022.
  • Legal – I analyse various legal mechanisms that constitute institutional discrimination, including so-called “gay propaganda law”, a censorship legislation that restricted LGBTQ people in their rights. Grounded in legal theory this part is explanatory and provides insight into distorted legal nature (or the absence of such nature) of legal norms that establish institutional discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.
  • Societal – I investigate the consequences of this law related to the increase in hate crimes against LGBTQ people across 13 years (2010-2022). First, I describe the quantitative change (the rise of hate crimes) after the introduction of the “gay propaganda law”. I show that compared to the levels before the introduction of the law in question, the number of crimes is at least three times higher. Second, the crimes changed qualitatively. I show that after 2013 there was a rise in premeditated crimes that are often perpetrated by a group of actors specifically targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation. Over the course of three consecutive years (2017, 2018, 2019), there was a noticeable surge in premeditated, organized and collective violence, linked to the actions of hate groups with homophobic ideologies.


I am a PhD Candidate at the Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin (UCD), as well as a visiting researcher at King’s Russia Institute, King’s College London (KCL).  

My research is in the area of authoritarian politics, legislative politics and lawmaking, human rights law, LGBTQ rights, discrimination and hate crime. I have experience teaching the following subjects: European Convention on Human Rights, Sociology of Human Rights, Law and Hate (all UCD), Russian Politics, Russian Legal System (both KCL).

I also work on the development of the website - hatecrime.fyi – which will be used (I hope!) to monitor hate crimes against LGBTQ people in Russia on a continuous basis. As a part of this work I collect instances of those crimes and submit annual reports to the organization responsible for monitoring such crimes in Europe - OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights as a part of the civil society report on the Russian Federation (so far two reports - in 2022 and 2023).

I currently serve as the Head of the PhD Network for the UCD College of Social Sciences and Law (2023-2024, jointly with Aoife Keogh) and a co-coordinator of the LGBTQI working group for the UC Berkeley Centre on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law.

In 2022 I was awarded UCD Research Impact Award (jointly with Dr Kondakov, runners-up). I also participated in Thesis in 3 competition – you can watch my speech (opens in a new window)here.

To distract myself from hate crime and authoritarian politics I organize a series of lunchtime lectures on Buddhism and Science at UCD. It takes place twice a semester – come to the next one!



Not peer-reviewed:

UCD Sutherland School of Law

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.