Moldova has been reprimanded by the European Court of Human Rights for banning gay campaigners from holding a peaceful protest outside the country's parliament.
In 2005, the Chisinau Municipal Council and the Mayor’s office rejected GENDERDOC-M’s application to peacefully demonstrate in front of the Moldovan Parliament, calling for the adoption of laws protecting sexual minorities.
The denial was later upheld by the country's Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice.
However, the LGBT group appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, which today (12 June) ruled that Moldova had violated its human rights.
The International Commission of Jurists and gay rights organization ILGA-Europe hailed the court's ruling as an 'important victory'.
Both groups submitted a third-party intervention arguing that the protection of public morality could not be an objective and reasonable justification for a difference in treatment under Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, said: 'The rights to peaceful assembly and expression are the fundamental rights in a democratic society and the European Court of Human Rights confirmed once again that those rights cannot be restricted on the basis of sexual orientation.
'We hope that today's judgment is a signal to Moldovan authorities that the discrimination against LGBT people is unacceptable and illegal and we hope that in the future they will act in accordance with the international human rights standards.'
The court heard Moldova argue that the denial of the group's right to protest was justified because the majority of the Moldovan population did not approve of gay relationships.
Later, however, it agreed that there had been a violation of the right to freedom of assembly but maintained that there was no violation of other rights under the convention.
However, the European Court rejected these arguments and reiterated that 'particularly weighty reasons need to be advanced to justify' a distinction based on sexual orientation.
It added that if the reason for a difference in treatment was 'based solely on the applicant’s sexual orientation, this would amount to discrimination under the convention.'