LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Moscow bans gay pride march

On 18 May 2006, the Mayor of Moscow refused permission for the first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride March.

ILGA-Europe condemns this decision of the Moscow Mayor and calls upon the Mayor to immediately reconsider his decision and urges the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to intervene and uphold the right to assembly for the Russian LGBT people.

Instances of denying or hindering LGBT people the right to assemble and demonstrate by the municipal authorities have occurred during the last couple of years in other European countries also. LGBT people in those countries have experienced violence, threats and appalling expressions of hate during the marches and demonstrations. These breaches of the basic human right to free assembly and homophobic attitudes have been condemned by the European Parliament’s Resolution on Homophobia in Europe earlier this year.

Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe Executive Board, said:

“We are seriously concerned with the decision of the Moscow Mayor to deny LGBT people the right to assembly. We would like to remind Jury Luzhkov about Article 31 of the Russian Constitution which guarantees everyone a right to peaceful demonstration.

Russia is about to take over the presidency of the Council of Europe and such a decision contradicts the basic principle of freedom of assembly enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights. We also want to stress that such arguments against LGBT demonstration as religious objections and plans for counter-demonstrations cannot legitimise serious breaches of the right to assembly as confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights.

We also hope that the European organisations and institutions will express their outrage by such lawless actions of the Moscow Mayor. Meanwhile we hope the ban will be successfully challenged in the court.”

For more information please contact Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for LGBT people in Europe.

(2) LGBT marches and demonstrations have been hindered, banned or experienced violent protests in such cities as Belgrade, Chisinau, Bucharest, Zagreb, Warsaw, Riga, Krakow, and Poznan.

(3) Bans on LGBT pride marches have been already successfully challenged in courts in Riga and Poznan. Also the European Court of Human Rights confirmed that there are positive duties on a state to protect those exercising their rights of freedom of peaceful assembly from violent disturbance by counter-demonstrators. Because both sides may claim to be exercising their right, initially this may be a duty to hold the ring between rival meetings or processions, but if one of them is aimed at disruption of the activities of the other, the obligation of the authorities is to protect those exercising their right of peaceful assembly, case of Platform Artze fur das Leben v Austria, No 10126/82, 44 DR 65 (1985).