Religion, Sexual Minorities and the Rule of Law in Russia: Mutual Challenges

31 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2017

See all articles by Mikhail Antonov

Mikhail Antonov

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: March 9, 2017


This paper analyses the cultural constraints that are factually imposed on the actors of the Russian legal system by the prevailing social philosophy which is characterized by a significant degree of religious conservatism. This conservatism is predictably opposed to sexual minorities and to those who want to defend or justify them. Examining the 2013 amendments on the protection of traditional values and the case law concerning these amendments, along with the discourses of some judges of the Russian Constitutional Court (RCC) and other actors, the author concludes that religious conceptions have a strong impact on decision-making in Russian courts, and can sometimes overrule the formal provisions of the Russian Constitution and the laws which grant protection and guarantees to the sexual minorities. This situation can be explained with reference to the prevailing social philosophy which promotes conservative values and emphasises collective interests. The reasons for this specific development of Russian intellectual culture in this regard fall outside the scope of the present paper, but it can be asserted that this development, historically oriented at prioritizing morals and religion over the law, still shapes the general conservative attitudes of Russians toward sexual minorities. These attitudes cannot be ignored by judges and other actors of Russian legal system who, to some extent, are subject to the general perception of what is just, acceptable, and reasonable in the society.

Keywords: religion, social philosophy, religious feelings, sexual minorities, justice, courts, case law, legal normativity, human rights, constitutional justice

JEL Classification: K10; K40

Suggested Citation

Antonov, Mikhail, Religion, Sexual Minorities and the Rule of Law in Russia: Mutual Challenges (March 9, 2017). Higher School of Economics Research Paper No. WP BRP 45/PS/2017. Available at SSRN: or

Mikhail Antonov (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017

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