LGBT+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s snapshot of the current state of affairs for LGBT+ people, through the lens of international business. The Business Climate Score score is out of ten possible points, and is based on ten independently verifiable indicators of the legal, cultural and business context for LGBT+ people.

3.5
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1.
Are consensual homosexual acts between adults legal?
1
Yes
2.
Are marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples available?
0
No relationship recognition
3.
Is being LGBT+ punishable by death?
0.5
No, but extrajudicial killings occur
4.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment prohibited?
0
No
5.
Can transgender people legally change their gender markers?
1
Yes
6.
Is sex reassignment surgery at birth for intersex children prohibited?
0
No
7.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the provision of goods and services prohibited?
0
No
8.
Is there a U.S. State Department warning against travel for LGBT+ individuals?
1
No
9.
Do companies sponsor Pride?
0
No
10.
Are there laws prohibiting freedom of assembly or speech for LGBT+ people (i.e. “anti-propaganda laws”, media gags, etc)?
0
Yes
Talking Points
  • The 2013 ‘gay propaganda’ law that criminalizes exposing minors to representations of same-sex relationships – and that the European Court of Human Rights ruled in June 2017 violates freedom of expression – codifies an anti-LGBT+ environment that makes it hard to build a case for doing business in Russia or moving top LGBT+ talent there.
  • In May 2015, President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that gives Russian authorities the power to ban “undesirable” foreign organizations – including companies – that they deem a “threat to the defensive capabilities or security of the state, to the public order, or to the health of the population.” This makes investing in business there economically risky.
  • Based on conservative estimates that 4-6% of the population identify as LGBT+, there are 5.7 – 8.6 million LGBT+ people in Russia. Passing federal anti-discrimination laws will ensure millions of Russians can participate more openly and productively in the economy.
Talking Points
Impact of LGBT+ Discrimination on Business and Talent
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    NO RISK
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    LOW RISK
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    MODERATE RISK
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    NOTABLE RISK
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    HIGH RISK
BRAND RISK
  • 4
    NOTABLE RISK
In terms of supporting LGBT+ rights, there is notable brand risk to operating in Russia.
CLIENT RISK
  • 5
    HIGH RISK
Entrenched cultural and political homophobia create significant risk that LGBT+ clients may feel alienated by business conducted in Russia.
TALENT RISK
  • 4
    NOTABLE RISK
Though consensual same-sex relations are legal in Russia, same-sex marriage is not, making it unwise to send LGBT+ talent abroad, where they’ll likely face discrimination and their spouses won’t be recognized.
MARKETING RISK
  • 5
    HIGH RISK
The 2013 law making depictions of non-heterosexual relationships punishable by fine makes it virtually impossible to market to LGBT+ consumers in Russia.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT+ People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • — Diversity House, an organization intended to provide a safe space for LGBT people to watch the World Cup, was evicted from its St. Petersburg location prior to the beginning of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow.
  • — Gay pride parades have not been allowed in Moscow since before 2006; in 2012, the city’s top court banned gay pride there for 100 years when a top LGBT+ activist, Nikolay Alexeyev, tried to overturn the city council ban.
  • — Activists in Moscow were also prevented from holding a “day of silence” event in April 2016 to commemorate victims of violence against the LGBT+ community. The event was allowed to go on in St. Petersburg, though the city declined to allow a march and rally three months later.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

  • — In January 2018, a same-sex Russian couple who married in Denmark “accidentally” had their marriage recognized in Russia when a Russian clerk put marriage stamps in their passports. The couple, facing death threats and alleged police mistreatment, fled the country later that month.
  • — The Power Rangers movie released in 2017, which was rated PG-13 in the United States, was deemed off-limits for minors in Russia because it depicts an LGBT+ protagonist.
  • — In 2017, the head of the Russian Orthodox church equated marriage equality to Nazism while promoting his book.
  • —Polls released in summer 2016 showed that 37% of Russians believe homosexuality is a disease, 18% believe that LGBT+ people should be prosecuted, and only 3% think LGBT+ people should be allowed to raise children.
  • — According to the Russian LGBT Network’s 2017 annual report, which conducts an anonymous survey of LGBTQI people, 47.4% of respondents reported suffering psychological violence, 10.1% reported physical violence, and 2.6% suffered sexual violence.
  • — In summer 2015, two straight, male video bloggers walked around Moscow holding hands with a hidden camera to gauge passersby reactions. They were heckled and sworn at, and one man tried to push them off a sidewalk.
Local Leaders Advocating for LGBT+ Equality

As appropriate, Out Leadership encourages you and your company to engage in safe and cautious discussion with local leaders around LGBT+ equality and to leverage your firm’s influence to support their work. Due to conditions on the ground, activists in Russia are currently keenly focused on ensuring the physical safety of LGBT+ people there. Our partners at Human Rights Watch and Outright Action International are well networked with activists in Russia should your company be able to offer support.