LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

European Court: Moldova’s ban on LGBT demonstration violated human rights

Joint media release by International Commission of Jurists and ILGA-Europe

Brussels, Belgium / Geneva, Switzerland – The European Court of Human Rights today ruled that Moldova had violated GENDERDOC-M’s rights to peaceful assembly and to be free from discrimination when it denied the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) campaigning group to hold a peaceful demonstration in front of the Parliament.

The International Commission of Jurists and the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) said the decision of the European Court was an important victory. They had submitted a third-party intervention arguing that the protection of public morality could not be an objective and reasonable justification for a difference in treatment under Article 14 of the Convention.

“We congratulate GENDERDOC-M and the Moldovan LGBT communities for this important legal victory,” said Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe. “The rights to peaceful assembly and expression are the fundamental rights in a democratic society and the European Court of Human Rights confirmed once again that those rights cannot be restricted on the basis of sexual orientation.”

“We hope that today's judgment is a signal to Moldovan authorities that the discrimination against LGBT people is unacceptable and illegal and we hope that in the future they will act in accordance with the international human rights standards,” Paradis added.

In 2005, the Chisinau Municipal Council and the Mayor’s Office rejected GENDERDOC-M’s application to peacefully demonstrate in front of the Moldovan Parliament to encourage the adoption of laws protecting sexual minorities. The denial was later upheld by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice.

Before the Court, Moldova first argued that the interference with the right to freedom of assembly was justified because the majority of the Moldovan population did not approve of relationships between people of the same sex. Later, however, it conceded that there had been a violation of the right to freedom of assembly but maintained that there was no violation of other rights under the Convention.

The European Court rejected these arguments. It reiterated that “particularly weighty reasons need to be advanced to justify” a distinction based on sexual orientation. Indeed, if the reason for a difference in treatment was “based solely on the applicant’s sexual orientation, this would amount to discrimination under the Convention.

“The Court today made clear that public disapproval of 'promoting homosexuality' may not be used as a basis to interfere with the exercise of fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of assembly,” said Alli Jernow, ICJ’s Senior Legal Advisor for the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Project. “When used as a rationale for official action, it is nothing more than discrimination.”

ICJ-ILGA Europe intervention.

Genderdoc-M v. Moldova judgement.

  • Composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, the International Commission of Jurists promotes and protects human rights through the Rule of Law, by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems. Established in 1952 and active on the five continents, the ICJ aims to ensure the progressive development and effective implementation of international human rights and international humanitarian law; secure the realization of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights; safeguard the separation of powers; and guarantee the independence of the judiciary and legal profession.
  • ILGA-Europe is the European Region of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans & intersex people in Europe: