Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Gay Rights in Russia - Alekseyev v Russia update

Following up on my post of 5th March here are the decisions of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, from their 1164th meeting on 7th March 2013, in respect of their ongoing supervision of the judgment in Alekseyev v Russia:

"The Deputies

1. recalled the assurances given by the Russian authorities according to which the right to freedom of assembly, as provided by Article 11 of the Convention, is guaranteed in Russian law without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and called upon the Russian authorities to give direct and practical effect to this right;

2. reiterated in this context their concerns in view of the developments in the law and practice in the Russian Federation, including restrictive practices on the part of the competent local authorities, in particular those of Moscow, and of the adoption of regional laws in an increasing number of regions prohibiting the “promotion of homosexuality” among minors;

3. consequently expressed serious concerns with regard to the current legislative work aimed at introducing prohibition of the "promotion of homosexuality" at federal level and considered that the adoption of such a law could raise serious questions as to the compliance by the Russian Federation with its obligations under Article 46 of the Convention;

4. in the context of this ongoing legislative work, called upon the Russian authorities to give full consideration to the future Venice Commission Opinion “on the issue of the prohibition of so-called propaganda of homosexuality in the light of recent legislation in some Council of Europe member States, including the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine” before taking a final stand on these issues."

Point 1 reiterates the previous view of the CoM that the government of the Russian Federation are not currently giving direct and practical effect to the right to freedom of assembly without discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation (as had been pointed out to them by the three NGOs who submitted further evidence).

Points 2 and 3 relate to the ongoing development of regional and federal law regulating 'homosexual propaganda'.

Point 4 is perhaps the most interesting since it requires the Russian Federation to give consideration to a forthcoming opinion on the propaganda laws by the Venice Commission. This opinion was requested by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination on 7th December 2012.The Venice Commission are currently preparing this opinion and will adopt it at their next plenary session in June (thanks to Tatyana Mychelova at the Venice Commission for this information). The Venice Commission have prepared a number of earlier opinions on Russia's assembly laws and it will be very interesting to read their analysis and recommendations of the trend in some CoE states that are seeking to curtail freedom of assembly on the grounds of sexual orientation.

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