Saturday, 29 November 2014

New paper on 'The Role of the European Court of Human Rights in Adjudicating LGBT Claims'

Susan Gluck Mezey, of the Department of Political Science at Loyola University (Chicago), has made available the paper 'The Role of the European Court of Human Rights in Adjudicating LGBT Claims' which can be downloaded here:

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Grand Chamber to reconsider complaint by gay asylum seeker about threatened expulsion to Libya

The European Court of Human Rights has announced that the complaint in M.E. v Sweden will be referred to the Grand Chamber for consideration at the applicant's request.
The complaint, which I previously covered in detail here, concerns a Libyan national currently living in Sweden who alleges that his expulsion from Sweden to Libya would put him at risk of persecution and ill-treatment because he is a homosexual.

The applicant argues that expelling him to Libya would violate his rights under Article 3 of the Convention because as a homosexual he would be at risk of ill-treatment. He further argues that returning him to Libya and separating him from his (male) spouse would violate his right to respect for family life under Article 8 of the Convention.

The complaint was previously dealt with by a Chamber of the Fifth Section of the Court who unanimously declared the Article 8 complaint inadmissible and held by six votes to one that the expulsion of the applicant to Libya would not give rise to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

At its meeting on Monday 17 November 2014, the Grand Chamber panel of five judges decided to refer the complaint to the Grand Chamber and a future hearing will be scheduled.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Announcement by Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (Austria's LGBT-rights organization) of future litigation in Strasbourg

Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), Austria´s LGBT-rights organization, have today announded that they will make a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights about the distinction created between opposite-sex married couples and same-sex couples in registered partnerships in respect of surnames.

The text of the announcement is as follows:

Second Name vs Family Name
Registered Partnership: Pink Triangle of Austria´s Law of Names Goes to Strasbourg

The Austrian Supreme Administrative Court just has decided not (!) to end the labelling of same-gender couples by a special category of names. Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), Austria´s LGBT-rights organization, now takes the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

2010 Austria introduced registered partnership but combined this progress for same-gender couples with extraordinary maliciousness. Who enters registered partnership, the Registered Partnership Bill established, loses his family name and receives a second name instead. “Second names” (“Nachname”) are a new name category. It has been introduced solely for persons in a registered, thus same-gender, partnership. A second name therefore labels a person as homosexual. Second names thus work as the Pink Triangle of Austria´s law of names.

The last time before when a particular social group had been labelled with a special category of names was by the "Second Decree on the Implementation of the Act on the Change of Family Names and First Names" of the year 1939. This decree had ordered the labelling of Jews by the obligatory first names Israel and Sara …

Constitutional Court not interested

Christina Bauer had registered her partnership with Daniela Bauer in Germany. Daniela Bauer, as a German citizen still has a family name, as her name is determined by German law. Christina Bauer is an Austrian citizen and therefore applied to the civil registry office to establish that she still has a family name. The office rejected her application and she turned to the high courts.

The Constitutional Court declined to hear the case (VfGH 23.06.2010, B 582/10).

And the Administrative Supreme Court declared the application inadmissible on the ground that she should have used another remedy (to get a decision on whether she still has a family name), namely to ask the civil registry to issue a partnership-certificate displaying her name as a family name instead of a second name (VwGH 29.11.2010, 2010/17/0080).

Christina Bauer did as the Administrative Supreme Court told her and applied to the City of Vienna to issue such a partnership-certificate. The magistrate refused on the basis that she already had a German partnership-certificate. The Vienna governor dismissed the appeal, stressed that Miss Bauer had lost her family name due to the registration of her partnership and denied that this violated her human rights.

Supreme Administrative Court fools the applicant

Christina Bauer again turned to the high courts. The Constitutional Court again declined to hear the case (VfGH 26.11.2012, B 1253/11). And the Administrative Supreme Court – despite its prior judgment (see above) – now ruled that Miss Bauer cannot claim an Austrian partnership-certificate (VwGH 23.09.2014, 2012/01/0005). Its judgment of 2010 to the opposite the court declared irrelevant. The court stressed that it changed its mind …

„This is clear denial of justice. Same-gender couples not just get labelled by a special name category but the courts even refuse to issue a decision on the lawfulness of this labelling“, says RKL-president and counsel of applicant Dr. Helmut Graupner, „But the fight is not over yet. We are taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights“.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Turning the European Court of Human Rights into a folk devil: the UK Conservative Party and human rights

I have written a piece for the periodical Discover Society which I hope makes a modest contribution to the on-going debate in the UK about the value of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights.