Russian Court Declares Ban on LGBT Rights Protests Illegal
Washington D.C. – Human Rights First today welcomed news reports that the Presidium of the Kostroma Regional Court in western Russia has ruled that the city’s ban of two LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights protests was in violation of the demonstrators’ rights to freedom of expression and protection from discrimination.
“This ruling is an important victory for Russian activists and members of the LGBT community who have faced increased persecution, harassment and arrests by authorities for organizing and participating in peaceful events and protests in recent months,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “It is heartening to see Russian judges supporting important personal freedoms and demonstrating independence from the current anti-LGBT sentiment throughout Russia.”
The two events, which were organized to protest the discriminatory anti-“propaganda” laws, were cancelled by local officials who claimed that the events would violate the very law they were protesting. The bans were issued in June of last year, and upheld by lower courts on subsequent appeals. Kostroma, the seat of administrative power for the region, is the first Russian city to have such bans on LGBT events overturned. The prosecutor will have the option to appeal to the Supreme Court to uphold the original ruling.
Human Rights First continues to urge the U.S. government to press Russian officials to clarify the application of the anti-propaganda law, as well as end the systematic persecution of civil society, and prevent the spread of Russian-style anti-“propaganda” laws in the surrounding region.
For more information or to speak with Gaylord, please contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at email@example.com or 212-845-5269.