Supreme Court allows dissemination of information on LGBT issues

Two of Civil Rights Defender’s partners have appealed the regional laws that prohibits ”propaganda for homosexuality” to the Russian Supreme Court. In the latest ruling, on 25 October, the Court decided in favor of the law in St Petersburg but stated that dissemination of information about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender issues cannot be banned. The laws have already been used to clamp down on LGBT activists.

On 25 Ocotober the Russian Supreme Court published the full text of its decision against
Civil Rights Defenders partner – Coming Out’s – appeal of the “gay propaganda” law in St. Petersburg, which was passed during spring 2012.

“We are upset that the Russian Supreme Court upholds these discriminating laws, but this is an important decision in that sense that it states clearly that the dissemination of information about homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender cannot be banned”, says Cecilia Rosing, Programme Officer for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Civil Rights Defenders.

Recently the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a similar law, approved in Arkhangelsk in 2011 and challenged by Civil Rights Defenders partner Russian LGBT network. In accordance with the latest ruling, the Court said that the law does not prohibit “open and public debates about social status of sexual minorities” or limits “the right of the child to receive information, including information about homosexuality, conditional to his needs and appropriate to the specifics of his age.”

Despite that the wording of the St. Petersburg law and the Arkhangelsk counterpart differs, the reasoning in the court decisions is similar.

In addition to the state discrimination that the law represents, Coming Out argues that the danger of the law has grave consequences of increased aggression and violence towards LGBT people and –activists. In violent attacks that have taken place, the aggressors have used the law as a motive and excuse for their actions. With its decision, the Supreme Court effectively banned such aggressive actions.

”Every police officer, who decides to arrest people who raise rainbow flags or simply do not hide their sexual orientation should now know that he is breaking the law, ” says Igor Kochetkov the head of the Russian LGBT network.

We will together with our partners Coming Out and the Russian LGBT network continue working to challenge the law using international mechanism if necessary and in the meanwhile making sure that the local police and judges understand and properly use these Supreme Court arguments.

Read more: Anti-gay laws in conflict with federal legislation

With passing of the “gay propaganda” law, St. Petersburg saw an increase in aggression and violence against LGBT people. Radical-right organizations have already publicly justified violence against LGBT activists by the existence of this law during the attacks on May 17 International Day against Homophobia rally and other public actions.

These laws have further several times been used to prohibit outreach activities promoting LGBT rights. For instance, on August 30 in Arkhangelsk the authorities denied our partner Rakurs to hold a manifestation to raise awareness of social issues of LGBT referring to the Arkhangelsk “gay propaganda” law.

Categories: News.
Tags: Coming Out, Homophobia, and Russian LGBT Network.
Regions: Russia.