Wednesday, 3 February 2016

European Court of Human Rights communicates mass complaints about repression of LGBT speech in Russia

The European Court of Human Rights has communicated two cases against the Russian Federation that join together numerous applications that contain complaints about the refusal to permit individuals to assemble in public to advocate for LGBT human rights.

The first case, Alekseyev and Others v Russia, joins together 38 applications by six applicants who complain (under Articles 11, 13 and 14 of the Convention) about the refusal of domestic authorities to approve public assemblies for which they submitted notice. The proposed public assemblies included, for example, "Rally to call for the exclusion of transgenderism from the list of mental illnesses" and "Rally in central Moscow against the 'Law on the Propaganda of Non-Traditional Sexual Relations to Minors'". The list of surpressed assemblies also includes several "tongue-in-cheek" titles, such as the rally in central Moscow against the “exploitation of homosexual reindeer by Santa in Western countries”, that are presumably proposed to highlight the "black comedy" of the repression of LGBT speech in Russia.

The second case, Alekseyev v Russia, joins together 51 applications that make similar complaints to those in the first case.

Given the Court's judgment in Alekseyev v Russia in 2010, it is highly likely that most (if not all) of the complaints contained in these communicated cases will be upheld.

However, the main issue that these communicated cases raise is the continuing non-compliance of the Russian authorities with the judgment in Alekseyev v Russia. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, who have the Alekseyev judgment under enhanced supervision, have repeatedly noted the failure of the Russian authorities to comply. When they last considered the case in June 2015, they "expressed serious concern [...] that the local authorities in the Russian Federation continue to reject most of the requests made to hold public events similar to those in the present judgment". The Committee of Ministers is due to return to the issue in March 2016.

The newly communicated cases therefore raise again a serious question: what value are judgments from the Court if Contracting States will not comply with them?

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