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Thursday, October 21, 2010

European Court of Human Rights condemns Moscow gay pride bans

Police officers detain gay rights activists during a rally near city hall in Moscow, Tuesday, Sept., 21, 2010
Police officers detain gay rights activists near city hall in Moscow
The European Court of Human Rights condemned Russia on Thursday for letting Moscow ban gay pride marches simply because the city’s then-mayor - who famously compared gays to the devil - and other officials disapproved of them.

The binding ruling means that Russia must ensure gay parades are freely held in its cities, and requires the country to pay organizers of gay pride events euro29,510 ($41,300) for damages and court costs stemming from bans from 2006 to 2008.

The court is an arm of the Council of Europe, the continent’s premier human rights watchdog and Russia is a member.

The case was launched by Nikolay Alekseyev, an organizer of several Moscow marches, to highlight discrimination against gays and lesbians. Moscow’s mayor at the time, Yuri Luzhkov, ensured that gay pride parades, which never got official permission to go ahead, were brutally quashed by police.

In support of Moscow’s gay parade bans, the Russian government argued that "gay propaganda was incompatible with religious doctrines and public morals," the court added.

It ruled that that these attitudes violate Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which says "everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly." It added the "mere risk of a demonstration creating a disturbance" was no good reason to ban a parade.

The court’s action came the same day that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s chief of staff, Sergei Sobyanin, was named the new mayor of Moscow. He replaces Luzhkov, who was fired by President Dmitry Medvedev last month after 18 years in office.


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