Friday, 26 September 2014

Alekseyev v Russia - further decisions from the Committee of Ministers

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe have published further decisions in respect of their supervision of the execution of the judgment in Alekseyev v Russia

At their 1208th "DH" meeting on 25 September 2014, the Deputies 'expressed serious concern' that the majority of requests made to hold gay pride events in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kostroma and Arkhangelsk between 1 July 2013 and 1 May 2014 have been refused in light of the law prohibiting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”. 

The Deputies further noted 'with great regret' that, in light of the extremely low number of events authorised, that the 'exercise of the important right to assembly is not sufficiently recognised and protected by the Russian authorities'.

What is deeply worrying about the Deputies' decisions is that they appear to have shelved further consideration of the non-compliance with the Alekseyev judgment to June 2015. Between now and June 2015 the Deputies urge the Russian authorities to take action to ensure that gay and lesbian public events are not hindered by the 'propaganda' law, including by way of 'awareness-raising'. 

By June 2015 the Alekseyev judgment will be nearly five years old. In that time, Russia has enacted Federal law that effectively increases the ability of public authorities to restrict the public expression and assembly of sexual minorities. And the European Court of Human Rights has failed to consider and deliver judgment in respect of pending applications that complain that the propaganda laws violate Convention rights. 

Sexual minorities in Russia might justifiably look to the Council of Europe, its Court of Human Rights, and its Committee of Ministers and ask: what are you doing to address the ongoing and systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons solely on the grounds of their sexual orientation?

The Decisions can be read in full here:

Russia's Constitutional Court upholds 'homosexual propoganda' law

The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation has held that Article 6.21 of the Code of Administrative Offences, which prohibits ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors’, is constitutionally compliant. 

In a judgment dated 23 September 2014, the Court held that the propaganda law does not contravene the Constitution of the Russian Federation because:

  • it is aimed at the protection of constitutionally significant values ​​such as family and childhood;
  • it is designed to prevent harm to the health of minors, including their moral and spiritual development; 
  • it does not interfere in the sphere of individual autonomy or self-determination, including in respect of sexual identity;
  • it is not intended to prohibit or censure 'unconventional' sexual relationships;
  • it does not prevent an impartial public debate on the legal status of sexual minorities, including the organisation of public events to achieve this.

The judgment will no doubt form a significant element in forthcoming considerations of the propaganda law by both the Committee of Ministers in their supervision of the execution of Alekseyev v Russia and by the European Court of Human Rights in future complaints. 

The judgment is available here:

File: 24-П/2014

Friday, 19 September 2014

Same-sex couples and marriage: a short guide to Article 12 of the ECHR

I have produced a 'short guide' to marriage, same-sex couples, and Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The short guide can be downloaded here:

My thanks to Damian Gonzalez-Salzberg (University of Sheffield), Loveday Hodson (University of Leicester), and Robert Vanderbeck (University of Leeds) for reading and commenting on the draft of this guide.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

E.B. v Austria - complaint about alleged sexual orientation discrimination by an applicant convicted of child sex offences declared inadmissible

The European Court of Human Rights has declared the complaint in E.B. v Austria inadmissible. This follows a previous inadmissibility decision and judgment in respect of complaints by the same applicant. 

I have written a short article about the decision for the European Courts website, which can be found here: