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Supreme court of Russia dismiss appeal against anti-gay law

The Russian supreme court dismissed an appeal by the local LGBT organization Coming Out against St. Petersburg's ‘gay propaganda’ law
Russia's supreme court upheld St. Petersburg's anti-gay propaganda law

The supreme court of Russia dismissed the appeal by the Russian LGBT organization Coming Out, finding the 'gay propaganda' law consistent with the legislation of the Russian Federation.

St. Petersburg law bans ‘propaganda’ of ‘homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism that can damage the health, moral and spiritual development of minors’. The offence carries a fine of up to 500,000 roubles ($16,100)

The law also includes a definition of ‘propaganda’ given in 2010 by a Russian constitutional court.

Last month a milk cartoon was accused of promoting ‘gay propaganda’.

Madonna faced prosecution by Russian authorities for ‘homosexual propaganda’ over her MDNA tour concert which was held at St. Petersburg.

In July GSN reported that over 73 people prosecuted in St Petersburg in first four months under 'homosexual propaganda' law.

St Petersbourg's authorities also recently banned gay pride and fined the event's organizers.

The law also gave rise to an increase in aggression and violence against LGBT people. Radical-right organizations have already publicly justified violence against LGBT activists by the existence of this law during the attacks on a May 17 International Day against Homophobia rally and other public actions.

The law was promoted by the ruling United Russia party and adopted by St Petersburg's city assembly in February following the introduction of similar laws in the Russian administrative regions of Ryazan and Arkhangelsk in 2006 and 2011.

The law has been widely criticised by a plethora of worldwide organizations as violating the basic human rights freedom of expression and association.

Russian LGBT and human rights activists argued that the law is contrary to federal legislation of the Russian Federation and that the unclear definition of ‘propaganda’, opens the doors wide for abuse by law enforcement bodies and the judicial system.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal last week, finding the 'gay propaganda' law consistent with the legislation of the Russian Federation.

Ksenia Kirichenko, a lawyer and coordinator of the legal assistance program for the Coming Out organization told GSN: ‘In today's political conditions, expecting a different decision would be naïve.

The highest supreme authorities [in Russia] still approve laws that violate fundamental human rights.’

In one or two weeks’ time a statement outlining the supreme court’s reasoning to its ruling will be published.
Kirichenko expects that supreme court statement to define what ‘propaganda’ means in the context of St Petersburg’s ‘gay propaganda’ law.

Recently, Russian Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by the Russian LGBT Network around a similar ‘propaganda’ law in Arkhangelsk.

The court statement of the reasoning for the decision, however, included an interpretation of the law according to which the propaganda ban does not prohibit ‘open and public debates about social status of sexual minorities’ and does not ‘limit the right of the child to receive information, including information about homosexuality, conditional to his needs and appropriate to the specifics of his age.’

Activists can now appeal to the given definition in their advocacy efforts.

Kirichenko is adamant that Coming Out will continue to fight against St. Petersburg ‘gay propaganda’, in particular, by legally challenging specific instances of its application up in the European Court of Human Rights.

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