Friday, 24 November 2017

Religious marriage of same-sex couples: new report

I'm pleased to announce the publication of a new report on religious marriage of same-sex couples in England and Wales.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in England and Wales since 2013, but same-sex marriages solemnised by religious ceremonies are very small in number. This is because same-sex couples can marry in only 182 of the approximately 40,000 places of worship in which different-sex couples can marry. 

This report is the first empirical study of religious same-sex marriage. It draws on data collected from 71 places of worship that are registered to solemnise same-sex marriage. 

I hope the report will stimulate debate about the current relationship between marriage, religion, and equality on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The report can be downloaded here: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/124435/1/Same_Sex_Religious_Marriage.pdf


Saturday, 18 November 2017

New communicated case about "homosexual propaganda" laws in Russia: Klimova v Russia

The Third Section of the European Court of Human Rights has communicated the case of Klimova v Russia. The case concerns the enforcement of "homosexual propaganda" laws in Russia.

The facts

The applicant, Ms Klimova, is a journalist and the founder of an online support project for LGBT teenagers “Children-404”. The name refers to the Internet error message "Error 404 - Page not found" in allusion to the invisibility of LGBT adolescents and their specific problems in an LGBT-intolerant environment of Russia.

The applicant was the administrator of the project’s Internet site and of a dedicated online community on the social networking site VKontakte which provided a space for teenagers to discuss LGBT issues and support each other.

On 3 August 2015 the applicant was found guilty of the administrative offence of “public activities aimed at the promotion of homosexuality among minors” and sentenced to a fine of 50,000 Russian roubles. The domestic courts found that the applicant, in her capacity as the administrator of the VKontakte community “Children-404”, had published users’ posts and had failed to delete users’ comments promoting homosexuality.

On 7 August 2015 the Tsentralnyy District Court of Barnaul found that the web page of the VKontakte community “Children-404” contained information prohibited for dissemination in Russia, in particular information promoting homosexuality among minors. Four unrelated VKontakte webpages (including a gay dating web page and a gay pornography web page) were also banned by the same decision for the same reasons. The applicant was not informed about the hearing and learned about the decision when the webpage was blocked. Her appeal and cassation appeals were rejected.

On 13 April 2016 the Tsentralnyy District Court of Barnaul found that the new web page of the VKontakte community “Children-404” and their Internet site also contained information promoting homosexuality among minors and should be therefore prohibited for dissemination in Russia.

Questions to the Parties

The Court has asked the parties the following questions:
  1. Did the applicant’s conviction of an administrative offence and the blocking of two web pages of the VKontakte community “Children-404” (http://vk.com/deti¬404_vk and http://vk.com/deti404_vk2) and of the related Internet site (www.deti-404.com) of which she was the administrator amount to an interference with the applicant’s freedom of expression within the meaning of Article 10 § 1 of the Convention? If so, was that interference compatible with the requirements of Article 10 § 2? In particular:
    • Was the interference prescribed by law? What legitimate aim did the contested measures pursue, were they proportionate to that legitimate aim and necessary in a democratic society?
    • Was the decision-making process leading to the interference fair and such as to afford due respect to the interests safeguarded to the individual by the Convention (see, as a recent authority, Karácsony and Others v. Hungary [GC], nos. 42461/13 and 44357/13, § 133, ECHR 2016)? In particular, did the domestic courts specify which publications were problematic (see Kaos Gl v. Turkey, no. 4982/07, §§ 57 and 58, 22 November 2016)? Did the executive authorities and the courts consider the collateral effect that a blocking decision may have on the material which has not been found to be illegal? Did the decision of 7 August 2015 make a separate assessment in respect of each of the five unrelated webpages?
  2. Has the applicant suffered discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, contrary to Article 14 of the Convention read in conjunction with Article 10?
The webpages

The relevant webpages are:

“Children-404” (http://vk.com/deti404_vk2)
VKontakte Internet site (www.deti-404.com)