Council of Europe slams Russia for gay pride ban

The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers slammed Russia for its continual ban of LGBT events which breaches a European Court of Human Rights ruling

Council of Europe slams Russia for gay pride ban
30 September 2012

The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers once again sharply criticized the Russian authorities for failing to implement the recommendations of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case, ‘Alekseyev v. Russia’.

On 21 October 2010 Nikolay Alexeyev, a Russian LGBT rights advocate, won a case before the European Court concerning prohibition of 2006, 2007 and 2008 Moscow Pride marches and picketings.

In the ‘Alekseyev v. Russia’, the court ruled that Russia breached three articles of the European Convention of Human Rights, to which it is signatory, including the right to freedom of assembly, the right to effective legal remedy and the ban on discrimination. The court ordered Russia to pay to Alekseyev nearly 30,000 euros in compensation.

The case marked the first ever international defeat of the Russian government on the issue of gay rights.

The Russian government has paid compensation, but continued to ban many public events of the LGBT community and thus not abiding the judgement of the ECHR.

The Council of Europe is an international organization promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation. All members states are signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights which is legally upheld by the ECHR, which is the judicial part of the council.

Due to this continued violation, the deputy foreign ministers of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers (CECM) statement was published late on Friday (28 September) that the Russian government has not fulfilled the ECHR’s ruling of lifting the ban on public events by LGBT organisations as ruled.

Committee of Ministers noted ‘only a very limited number of’ LGBT events were allowed to take place, while in the ‘vast majority of cases’, Russian authorities, particularly in Moscow refused to grant permits to them.

CECM also expressed ‘concerns as regards the use of regional laws prohibiting propaganda of homosexuality’ being used to ban LGBT events.

It addition observed that Russia needs to take measures to train and raise awareness on LGBT issues for the authorities responsible for issuing permits for public events, ‘and asked the Russian authorities to submit a comprehensive action plan in this respect’.

CECM stated that current procedures in Russia are inadequate to deal with the situation an ‘invited the Russian authorities to adopt the necessary measures, through legislative action if need be.’

Finally the Committee of Ministers meet to discuss the issue, at their first meeting in 2013, where they will also review the action plan that the Russian authorities are due to submit.

Speaking with GSN Alexeyev said the ‘The Council of Europe is not satisfied at all with the contiual breach of ECHR’s ruling by Russia, and thus announced that it will closely monitor its actions.  

‘There are a few decisions of ECHR which are not being abided by Russia, in terms of general legal position and the European Convention.

‘The more this case continues to be breached, the more Russia has to answer, the more the Council becomes unsatisified, and the more chances that Russia will eventually have to authorise gay pride.

Otherwise there can be a situation which will may disqualify Russia’s membership at the Council of Europe, as its non implementation of ECHR descion is a breach of international obligations.

‘During Monday’s (1 October) session of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe there will be a discussion of the above resolution. There is a monitoring process which will be raised to the level of CECM, this only happens when a country is found to have serious human rights violations.

‘I hope that following this case and many others enough pressure can be brought on Russia to start allowing LGBT events.

‘We don’t know how long this will take, it depends on how harsh the CECM resolution would be, and how Russia responds to them.

‘We have about 20 cases pending in ECHR related to Russia banning LGBT events, only one was decided.

‘Thus is also depends how fast ECHR will open these other cases against the Russian authorities, as we need to show that the question of these are consistent violations of the European conventions, and thus an institutional problem.’

Aleksevy remains hopeful: ‘we have many cases pending, and ‘other LGBT Russian organizations are finally also joining appeals to ECHR which will help. Others will also join in appeals, not only gay events but for example opposition groups which are being banned the Russian authorities, violating the European Convention’s article of freedom of assembly.’

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