The European Human Rights Court has ruled that Russia’s banning of LGBTIQ pride marches is a violation of the human right to free assembly.
The country has long denied permits to and violently disrupted public demonstrations by LGBTIQ activists, and in 2013 signed into law its “gay propaganda” law, which prevents the “promotion” of “non-traditional sexual relations to children.
While that law doesn’t explicitly ban Pride marches, it’s been used as cover to either deny permits or violently crackdown when activists have gone forward with actions without obtaining them.
The case was brought by seven Russian activists and involved attempted gatherings in seven Russian cities between the years 2008 to 2014, including a total of 51 occasions where requests to hold pro-LGBTIQ events were denied.
The ECHR ruled that shutting down those attempted demonstrations “did not correspond to a pressing social need and was thus not necessary in a democratic society.”
The ban “had clearly been motivated by the authorities’ disapproval of the theme of the demonstrations,” the court ruled.
“The Court also finds that the applicants suffered unjustified discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, that that discrimination was incompatible with the standards of the Convention, and that they were denied an effective domestic remedy in respect of their complaints concerning a breach of their freedom of assembly,” the ruling stated.
That constituted a violation of Articles 11, 13, and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, protecting freedom of assembly and freedom from discrimination, the court ruled unanimously.
But it also said the ruling constituted “sufficient just satisfaction” and dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims for compensation to cover their legal costs.
Several Russian lawmakers have recently hit back against the court, calling on President Vladimir Putin and his government to break with the European Convention of Human Rights over perceived “politicisation” of its rulings, the Associated Press reported.
In August, Russian police arrested 25 LGBTIQ activists who were demonstrating in St. Petersburg’s Palace Square after they were denied a permit for the rally.
The same month, a 16-year-old boy was arrested under the “gay propaganda” law for downloading a picture of two men hugging from a social media site.
He was found not guilty when a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence against him.
In September, 15 countries of the intergovernmental body Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – of which Russia is a member – united to press Russia on what the country is doing to stop the persecution of gay men in the Russian region of Chechnya.
(Photo by Wikimedia Commons/InkBob)