Metro Weekly

European court tells Russia to stop banning public LGBTQ events

Russia's ban on public LGBTQ events violates the freedoms and rights of its citizens, the ECHR ruled

Courtroom of the European Court of Human Rights – Photo: Adrian Grycuk, via Wikimedia.

A top European court has told Russia that its ban on public LGBTQ events constitutes discrimination and a violation of human rights.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled today, Nov. 27, that Russia’s ban on public LGBTQ events did not hold up to reason, and instead infringed upon the rights of LGBTQ people in the country.

The case was brought by seven Russian activists, who accused Russia of violating their freedoms by repeatedly refusing to allow LGBTQ events and marches to take place — or, in one case, granting a permit to march and then quickly rescinding it.

They argued that Russia was violating its constitution, Article 11 of which states that every citizen “has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others.”

The ECHR agreed that Russia was in violation of Article 11, as well as two others. In addition, Russia was also ruled to be in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights, which the country signed onto in 1996.

“The Court considers that in the instant case, the ban on holding LGBT public assemblies imposed by the domestic authorities did not correspond to a pressing social need and was thus not necessary in a democratic society,” the ECHR said in its ruling.

It continued: “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 ECHR specifically targeted the reasoning behind the ban on public LGBTQ events, stating that it “had clearly been motivated by the authorities’ disapproval of the theme of the demonstrations.”

But while the court recommended a “sustained and long-term effort” to implement measures to allow future LGBTQ events and marches, Russia will likely not comply, the Washington Post reports.

It’s not the first time the ECHR has ruled against Russia’s anti-LGBTQ animus. Last year, the court found that Russia’s “gay propaganda” law — which criminalizes any activity or display seen to be showing homosexuality in a positive light — was discriminatory.

The law, which is geared toward stopping the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors” or the equating of “traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships,” was ruled to have “reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia, which was incompatible with the values of a democratic society,” according to the court.

In addition, the court noted that the purpose and application of the law “served no legitimate public interest.”

Despite the court’s ruling, Russia refused to change or remove the law, with the country’s Justice Ministry instead doubling down and stating it helped protect the “morals and health of children.”

And earlier this year, a 16-year-old boy was found guilty under the law, after being accused of spreading “propaganda of homosexuality among minors.”

Maxim Neverov, of Biysk, in Russia’s Western Altai Krai province, was accused of posting inappropriate pictures celebrating or condoning homosexuality on the social network VKontakte — Russia’s version of Facebook — with authorities claiming that photos of partially nude men had the “characteristics of propaganda of homosexual relations.”

However, the Russian LGBT Network suspected that the teenager was actually targeted by authorities for taking part in and helping to organize a “Gays or Putin” demonstration in May that protested the Kremlin’s role in the persecution of LGBTQ people.

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