For Immediate Release: June 7, 2012
Human Rights First condemns the Tverskoy District Court ruling to uphold the decision of Moscow authorities to ban gay pride parades in the city until May 2112. The Moscow City Hall has banned such events for seven consecutive years, citing numerous letters from public officials, religious organizations, and private citizens urging the authorities to prohibit a demonstration. The European Court of Human Rights pronounced these bans illegal in October 2010.
“This unprecedented ban is not entirely surprising, but Russia’s society is evolving at a pace not even Vladimir Putin can control,” said Human Rights First’s Innokenty Grekov. “More people are becoming accepting and tolerant to LGBTI persons. The 100-year ban, along with the discriminatory laws prohibiting “promotion of homosexuality” that are spreading through local legislatures, show that the Russian government remains behind the times.”
“It is regrettable that the new city government, led by Mayor Sobyanin, is repeating the mistakes of the disgruntled former mayor Luzhkov, whose vehemently antigay rhetoric and actions are well-known.”
In October 2010, the European Court of Human Rights issued a verdict affirming that the 164 bans on gay pride marches and events between 2006 and 2008 were in violation of the constitutionally protected right to freedom of assembly. In April 2011, the ECHR decision in Alekseyev v. Russia came into force after the Russian government lost its appeal in Strasbourg.
Earlier this year, a Russian court in Krasnodar published the full text of its February decision against another initiative led by Nikolay Alekseyev, which denied registration to Sochi Pride House—a civil society group that, like many advocacy organizations of many different causes, seeks to capitalize on the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi to promote tolerance in sports.
“Russia’s commitment to the fundamental freedoms of its citizens is clearly violated. Freedom of assembly and association is an essential human right guaranteed by constitution and international treaty obligations made by Russia. The European Court of Human Rights will no doubt consider this latest abuse and decide in favor of the LGBTI groups whose rights are violated by these illegal court rulings,” concludes Grekov. U.S. government leaders, too, should speak out publicly against these violations, particularly in light of last year’s presidential memorandum on international initiatives to advance the human rights of LGBT persons globally. The presence of Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Melia at this this year’s Riga pride, a venue that has been marred by violence in the past, is a welcome example of American officials expressing solidarity with LGBT individuals and their supporters in their quest for the right to freely assemble.