Russia: Court ruling on ‘LGBT’ human rights dispute

A refusal by Russia’s authorities to register three gay rights organisations was today declared “unjustified and discriminatory,” under the European Convention on Human Rights.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case Zhdanov and Others v. Russia (application no. 12200/08, 35949/11 and 58282/12), the European Court of Human Rights decided, by a majority, to declare inadmissible the complaints lodged by one of the applicants, namely the well-known LGBT activist Nikolay Alekseyev, as an abuse of the right of application because of his offensive and threatening statements about the Court and its judges on social networking accounts.

As concerned the remaining applicants, it held, unanimously, that there had been:
a violation of Article 6 § 1 (access to court) of the European Convention on Human Rights in application no. 58282/12; a violation of Article 11 (freedom of association) in all applications; and, a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 11 in all applications.

The applicants in the case are four Russian nationals, Aleksandr Zhdanov, Nikolay Alekseyev, Kirill Nepomnyashchiy and Aleksandr Naumchik, who were born respectively in 1980, 1977, 1981, and 1982 and three Russian organisations: the Regional Public Association Rainbow House, based in Tyumen; the Autonomous Non-Profit Organisation Movement for Marriage Equality, based in Moscow; and the Regional Public Sports Movement Sochi Pride House, based in Krasnodar (all in Russia).

The individual applicants are the founders or presidents of these organisations. The first two organisations focus on defending LGBT rights, while Sochi Pride House was created to develop sport for LGBT people and combat homophobia.

The case Zhdanov and Others v. Russia (application no. 12200/08, 35949/11 and 58282/12) concerned the authorities’ refusal to register organisations set up to promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Russia.

Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the court held, unanimously, that the finding of a violation constituted in itself sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage sustained by Rainbow House.

It also held, by four votes to three, that Russia was to pay: Zhdanov 10,000 euros (EUR) and Nepomnyashchiy and Naumchik EUR 13,000 each in respect of non-pecuniary damage; and, the applicants in application no. 12200/08 EUR 6,500, jointly, in respect of costs and expenses.

Lastly, it dismissed, by four votes to three, the remainder of the applicants’ claim for just

The court found in particular that the decisive ground for refusing to register the applicant
organisations had been because they promoted LGBT rights. That ground could not be reasonably or objectively justified and had, moreover, amounted to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

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