Friday, 3 July 2015

No progress made again by the Committee of Ministers in Alekseyev v Russia

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe have again considered the state of execution of the European Court of Human Rights' judgment in Alekseyev v Russia. The judgment concerns the repeated refusal by Moscow authorities to allow the applicant to hold a Gay Pride march/event.

The Committee of Ministers have considered the judgment many times before, each time in the context of a worsening situation for LGBT people in the Russian Federation. Indeed, in advance of this latest meeting, GayRussia wrote to the Committee of Ministers to inform them that Pride organisers had been imprisoned. 

The Committee of Ministers has overwhelming evidence that, as ILGA-Europe and Coming Out put it, 'not only has there been no serious attempt to implement the Alekseyev judgment, but violations similar to those condemned in the Alekseyev judgment continue unabated'. In sum 'the refusal by the competent authorities in the Russian Federation to authorise public events in support of the rights of LGBT persons has continued uninterrupted for the 10 years since the rejection of the first application to hold a pride march in Moscow in 2005'.

Meanwhile, the Committee of Ministers continues to take a very 'light touch' approach to the issue. Although the Deputies:
expressed serious concern [...] that the local authorities in the Russian Federation continue to reject most of the requests made to hold public events similar to those in the present judgment, including on the basis of the Federal Law prohibiting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”, and therefore urged the authorities to take concrete measures to ensure that such requests are accepted unless there are well-grounded reasons justifying their rejection in compliance with Convention standards;
and 
invited the Russian authorities to provide further information on measures taken to sufficiently recognise and defend the exercise of the important right to assembly, in particular, to ensure that the mentioned Federal Law does not hinder the effective exercise of this right,
the language of the Committee of Ministers does not inspire confidence that they fully grasp, or are willing to tackle, what has been described as a 'state orchestrated campaign of stigmatisation' of LGBT people.  

The Russian authorities, in their latest communications to the Committee of Ministers, have continued to assert that '[a]ll citizens are equal before the law and the courts' and '[t]here are no laws in Russia that are against [...] LGBT persons'. The Russian authorities now repeatedly claim, as I argued in my article in the Russian Law Journal, that legislation designed to regulate 'propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations' does not target persons on the basis of their sexual orientation. 

Meanwhile, the Court has still not issued a judgment in Bayev and Others v Russia in which it has the opportunity to clearly articulate that the regulation of public expression on the grounds of sexual orientation is a violation of Article 10 of the Convention. 
 

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