The ill-treatment of a man by police at Bulgaria's first Gay Pride event in 2008 violates Article 3 of the Convention - judgment in Kostadinov v Bulgaria

The Fifth Section of the European Court of Human Rights has issued its judgment in Kostadinov v Bulgaria

The case concerned the treatment of the applicant, Boris Yordanov Kostadinov, who, during a Gay Pride event in Sofia in 2008, was intercepted by police who handcuffed him, forced him to lie on the ground, and kicked, punched and hit him with truncheons on the back, shoulders and legs. Mr Kostadinov was then taken to the police station where he was left in the corridor for a period of two hours and forced to face a wall with his hands up and legs apart. During this time he was also kicked in the ankles and hit with a truncheon in the back of his knees. Mr Kostadinov was then detained in a hot, crowded cell where he was not given any food or drink or allowed to go to the toilet. After his release, Mr Kostadinov complained but the domestic authorities found that the police had been justified in using force.

Relying in particular on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), Mr Kostadinov argued that he had suffered ill-treatment at the hands of the police both on arrest and in detention and that his complaints had not been effectively investigated.

The Court unanimously found three violations of Article 3 of the Convention: two substantive violations relating to the force used in the course of Mr Kostadinov's arrest and the conditions of his detention and treatment in the police station; and one procedural violation in respect of the nature of the subsequent investigation of Mr Kostadinov's ill-treatment by the police. 

This is a significant judgment because it adds to the Court's (very recently established) Article 3 jurisprudence on sexual orientation (see previous comment on Identoba and Others v Georgia). Although Mr Kostadinov's complaint did not concern sexual orientation discrimination it does addresses an issue of fundamental importance, which is the role of public authorities in maintaining public order during 'gay pride' events.