Russian Court Decisions Upholding Anti-LGBT Laws Undermine Human Rights | Freedom House

Russian Court Decisions Upholding Anti-LGBT Laws Undermine Human Rights

Washington

The Russian judiciary’s decision Dec. 3 to uphold laws openly discriminatory against LGBT people is new, alarming evidence that the courts are not protecting basic human rights, Freedom House said. Statutes banning "propaganda" of homosexuality among minors are helping create a hostile environment for LGBT people in Russia and are used to justify bans on public events and demonstrations.

“The court rulings show that the Russian judicial system is neither capable nor interested in upholding the fundamental human rights of Russians, nor ending impunity for human rights abuses,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “Russia can’t have it both ways, by enforcing discriminatory laws against its own citizens while offering assurances that LGBT people can attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi without any restrictions.”

The Constitutional Court rejected a challenge to St. Petersburg’s law banning “propaganda” of homosexuality among minors. The court cited the Russian Constitution’s special protections for motherhood, childhood, and the family, and provisions that the rights of one person may not violate the rights of others. In its decision, the court distinguished between “informational activities,” which it said were permissible, and what it described as “agitation” by Nikolai Alexeyev, the activist who brought the suit.

In a separate ruling, a court in Arkangelsk found Alexeyev guilty of violating a federal ban on “propaganda,” fining him and another activist 4,000 rubles (about $120) each.

“Russian courts have given legal protection to discrimination,” said Kramer. “It is unacceptable for the government and courts to cite ‘traditions’ to justify restrictions on the rights of a part of society.”

Russian authorities often cite protection of children, the family, and “traditional values” as justification for restrictions on the freedom of association, assembly, and expression of LGBT people and LGBT rights advocates. In recent written commentary about constitutional issues, the president of the Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin, criticized demands for tolerance towards LGBT people, warning of their “ruthless” effects on Russia’s identity.

Russia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2013, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2013.

To learn more about Russia, visit:
Press Release: Kazakhstan and Russia Should Scrap Proposed Anti-LGBTI Laws
Freedom in the World 2013: Russia
Freedom of the Press 2013: Russia
Special Report: Contending with Putin’s Russia
Nations in Transit 2013: Russia
Freedom on the Net 2013: Russia
Blog: Freedom at Issue

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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