European Court of Human Rights communicates case concerning "homosexual propaganda" law in Russia
The case concerns a Russian online social media and social networking service similar to Facebook) which were found to amount to “promotion of homosexuality among minors”.
No details have been provided by the Court regarding the nature of the online content. However, Ms Tsvetkova is a well known artist and activist in Russia and has been subject to several proceedings under Russia's "homosexual propaganda" laws. An article in the Moscow Times provides details of the proceedings, and information is provided by Amnesty International.
The principal provision in Russian federal law is Article 6.21 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation ("Promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors") which specifies:
“1. The promoting of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors, expressed in the dissemination of information aimed at creating in minors a non-traditional sexual orientation, promoting the attractiveness of non-traditional sexual relationships, creating a distorted image of the social equivalence of traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships, or imposing information about non-traditional sexual relationships, arousing interest in such relationships, if these activities do not contain acts punishable under criminal law,
- shall be subject to the imposition of an administrative fine, ranging from 4,000 to 5,000 roubles for citizens; from 40,000 to 50,000 roubles for officials; and, for legal entities, a fine ranging from 800,000 to 1,000,000 roubles or an administrative suspension of their activities for up to 90 days.”
Questions to the parties
The Court has asked the parties the following questions:
The Court has communicated this case very quickly, given that it was lodged on 22 August 2020.
Whilst it is difficult to say with certainty what the outcome will be without knowing details of the online content, it seems highly likely that the Court will find a violation of Article 10 (either alone and/or in conjunction with Article 14) of the Convention.
The Court has previously made clear that it regards legislation regulating the "promotion of homosexuality" to "reinforce stigma and prejudice and encourage homophobia, which is incompatible with the notions of equality, pluralism and tolerance inherent in a democratic society" required by Article 10 of the Convention, and to embody "a predisposed bias on the part of the heterosexual majority against the homosexual minority" in violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 10 of the Convention (Bayev and Others v Russia, §§ 83 and 91).
The outcome regarding complaints about the lack of a fair hearing under Article 6 of the Convention will provide an important reflection on how the Russian domestic courts are dealing with cases brought under this legislation.