Friday, 29 April 2016

And once again... The European Court of Human rights communicates a complaint against Russia

Further to the two cases that the European Court of Human Rights communicated in January, a further case has been communicated against the Russian Federation concerning sexual orientation discrimination. 

The communicated case, Nikolay Alekseyev and Movement for Marriage Equality v Russia and Nikolay Alekseyev and Others v Russia, concerns two applications and sets of complaints. Both relate to the refusal of Russian authorities to register LGBT organisations.

The first complaint

The first complaint concerns the refusal of the Moscow department of the Federal Registration Service of the Ministry of Justice to register the nonprofit organisation "Movement for Marriage Equality" which was founded to pursue the aims of "defending human rights in the sphere of marriage relations, of combatting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity and of promoting equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, in particular through legalisation for same-sex marriage". 

The reason given for the refusal was that the aims of the organisation were "incompatible with Russian law". The Gagarinskiy District Court concurred, stating that the organisation pursued aims that were:
incompatible with basic morality as it aims to promote legalisation of same-sex marriage and to increase the number of citizens belonging to sexual minorities, thereby undermining the conceptions of good and evil, of sin and virtue established in society. If these aims are attained it may trigger a public reaction and result in a decrease in the birth rate.
The applicants, Mr. Alekseyev and the Movement for Marriage Equality, complain under Articles 10 and 11 of the Convention, taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14 of the Convention, about the refusal to register the Movement for Marriage Equality and of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. They argue, in particular, that the refusal to register the organisation was based on the Russian authorities’ conviction that "homosexuality was immoral and a sin and that associations defending the rights of homosexuals should not be therefore allowed to exist".

The second complaint

The second complaint concerns the refusal of the Krasnodar department of the Federal Registration Service of the Ministry of Justice to register the "Sochi Pride House" which was created with the aims of "developing sport activities for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, of combating homophobia in professional sports, of creating positive attitudes towards LGBT sportspeople, and of providing a forum for the latter during the Sochi Olympic Games". 

The reason for the refusal was that the aims of the Pride House were "incompatible with Russian law". The Pervomayskiy District concurred, stating that:
The aims of combating homophobia and creating positive attitudes towards LGBT sportspeople are incompatible with basic morality as they may lead to increasing the number of citizens belonging to sexual minorities, thereby undermining the conceptions of good and evil, of sin and virtue established in society ... 
The court does not see any reason to order that the [Sochi Pride House be registered] because its constitutional documents do not comply with the requirements of Russian law and its aims are incompatible with basic morality and the State policy of protecting the family, motherhood and childhood. Its activities amount to propaganda of a non-traditional sexual orientation, which may undermine national security, cause social and religious hatred and enmity and undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation by decreasing its population. They are therefore extremist in nature.
An appeal to that court was deemed to have been submitted out of time and was rejected. An appeal against this decision was rejected by the Krasnodar Regional Court.

The applicants, Mr. Alekseyev, Mr. Naumchik, Mr. Nepomnyashchiy, and the Sochi Pride House, complain under Article 11 of the Convention, taken alone and in conjunction with Article 14 of the Convention, about the refusal to register the Sochi Pride House and of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. They argue, in particular, that the refusal to register the Sochi Pride House was based on the Russian authorities’ conviction that homosexuality was immoral and a sin and that associations defending the rights of homosexuals should not be therefore allowed to exist. The applicants also complain, under Article 6 of the Convention, that a refusal to examine their appeal on the merits breached their right of access to a court.

Questions to the Parties

The Court has asked the Parties the following questions:
  1. Did the refusals to register the applicant organisations interfere with the applicants’ rights under Article 11 of the Convention? Was the interference prescribed by law? Was it “necessary in a democratic society” within the meaning of Article 11 § 2 of the Convention?
  2. Can the applicant organisations claim to be victims of the alleged discrimination on account of sexual orientation, contrary to Article 14 of the Convention, taken together with Article 11?
  3. Did the applicants suffer discrimination on account of sexual orientation, contrary to Article 14 of the Convention read in conjunction with Article 11?
  4. As regards the second application, given that the applicants’ appeal against the judgment of 20 February 2012 was not examined on the merits, has the applicants’ “right of access to a court” guaranteed by Article 6 § 1 been respected?


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