Russia’s top court backs gay events ban

Russian state media hailed the country’s Supreme Court ruling as a blow to discrimination of LGBT people, yet its decision actually strengthens gay events ban

Russia’s top court backs gay events ban
14 September 2012

The Supreme Court of Russia has ruled that some LGBT events are not classified as ‘homosexual propaganda’.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, passed this Thursday (13 September), concerned the recent legal ban on ‘gay propaganda’ to minors issued by legislature in North Russia’s Arkhangelsk Region.

Nikolai Alexeyev, an LGBT rights advocate contested the ruling in both the lower courts and the European Court of Human Rights.

The Supreme Court decision however stated that Arkhangelsk Region’s law against ‘homosexual propaganda’ and its application (i.e. ban of LGBT events) was justified, lawful and did not contradict Russian federal laws.

It merely states that ‘some LGBT events are not homosexual propaganda.’

However the state controlled TV station, Russia Today, announced that the Supreme Court ‘will not classify gay pride parades and other public declarations of sexual preference as gay propaganda, and such acts will therefore not be restricted by recent legal limitations.’

Speaking with Gay Star News, Alexeyev criticised RT and the Supreme Court’s decision: ‘In fact the Supreme Court’s decision is terrible.

‘It ruled that Arkhangelsk “homosexual propaganda” law and its application is legal and does not contradict Russia federal laws.

‘It made matters in fact worse by stating that Russia has a traditional family structure as a norm which must be “protected”.

‘It only stated that some LGBT events are not “homosexual propaganda”, which has no legal binding on the application of the “anti-homosexual propaganda” law in Arkhangelsk or any other Russian area.

‘Furthermore, unlike in the UK or US a ruling by the Supreme Court does not set a precedent for other cases so the Russian authorities can continue not only to ban LGBT events, like Moscow Pride, with ‘homosexual propaganda’ laws and now they can even use a new clause about the “traditional family”.

‘Russia Today’s announcement is thus completely misleading and itself nothing more than propaganda designed to make the Russian authorities look as if they are fair and do not discriminate.

‘They certainly are not fair and do discriminate, two prides in Moscow and two in St. Petersburg, among countless other LGBT events have been banned continually. ’

This Wednesday (12 September) the security chief of the Moscow local government said that the authorities will not allow gay pride in Moscow: ‘We protect the interests of citizens who are vehemently opposed to these people who promote non-traditional relationships in front of children.’

In the last few years Russian politicians and authorities initiated major legal campaigns against so-called ‘homosexual propaganda’.

Laws against the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ were approved and enacted eight regions, including St. Petersburg and Arkhangelsk.

On 21 October 2010 Nikolai Alexeyev won the first ever case at the European Court of Human Rights on LGBT human rights violations in Russia.

The Strasbourg-based court unanimously ruled that by banning three Moscow Prides in 2006, 2007 and 2008 Russia breached three articles of the European Convention. In January 2011 Russian Government asked the Court to refer the case for re-consideration to the Grand Chamber. On 11 April 2011 five judges panel of the European Court dismissed Russia’s appeal and the verdict on illegality of Moscow Pride bans came into force the same day.

On the 24-26 September a committee of EU ministers will pass resolution on the continuing violation by Russia’s government of the European Court of Human Rights ruling.

Speaking with GSN, Yury Gavirkov, a St. Petersburg based LGBT activist agreed with Alexeyev’s opinion and said: ‘This decision is nothing more than window dressing, appearing to try on the surface to satisfy the European Court of Human Rights and Arkhangelsk’s government.

‘Furthermore, Russian authorities can ban (and have done so) LGBT events legally on technical issues, for example saying a road needs to be fixed or the event “clashes” with another.

‘This ruling is meaningless in terms of anti-discrimination; it sets absolutely no precedent and is far from being a landmark decision as Russia Today tries to make it sound.’

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