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Russia Violated Basic Rights With LGBT Rally Bans, European Court Rules

Protesters try to tear a rainbow flag during an LGBT community rally in central Moscow in May 2015.
Protesters try to tear a rainbow flag during an LGBT community rally in central Moscow in May 2015.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Russia violated several basic rights by barring rallies planned by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in 2009-2014.

The ECHR ruled on November 27 that "the continued refusal by Russian authorities to approve organizers' requests to hold LGBT rallies" violated the right to freedom of assembly, the right to an effective remedy, and the right not to be discriminated against.

The case before the court in Strasbourg, France, addressed 51 applications filed by seven applicants for permission to hold LGBT rallies.

The ECHR found that the authorities' decisions to deny permission for the demonstrations could not be justified by concerns about the potential disruption of public order and were "in breach of their right to freedom of assembly."

The decisions were "clearly...motivated by the authorities' disapproval of the theme of the demonstrations," it said.

The court also found that the lack of "any requirement on the authorities to make a decision on the events prior to the dates on which they were to be held amounted to an absence of effective remedy," it also found.

It said that under the European Convention on Human Rights, Russia "would need to make a sustained and long-term effort" to take measures to ensure the freedom of assembly and curb discrimination.

President Vladimir Putin has asserted that Russia does not discriminate against gay people, but rights activists vocally dispute that.

In 2017, researchers said that the number of hate crimes against LGBT people in Russia doubled in five years, attributing the increase to a law Putin signed in 2013 that banned the spreading of "propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations" to minors.

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