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Russia: Russian Supreme Court Upheld Homophobic Politics of St. Petersburg
On October 3, Russia's Supreme Court considered the appeal by LGBT organization "Coming Out", challenging the law on the so-called "gay propaganda" in St. Petersburg.
Human rights activists are convinced that this law is contrary to federal legislation of the Russian Federation, and, because of lack of definition of "propaganda", opens the doors wide for abuse by law enforcement bodies and the judicial system.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, finding the "gay propaganda" law consistent with the legislation of the Russian Federation.
"In today's political conditions, expecting a different decision would be naive," says Ksenia Kirichenko, a lawyer and coordinator of the Legal Assistance program for Coming Out. The highest supreme authorities [in Russia] still approve laws that violate fundamental human rights."
Recently, Russian Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by the Russian LGBT Network around a similar "propaganda" law in Arkhangelsk. The "statement of reasons" for the decision, however, included an interpretation of the law according to which the propaganda ban does not prohibit "open and public debates about social status of sexual minorities" and does not "limit the right of the child to receive information, including information about homosexuality, conditional to his needs and appropriate to the specifics of his age." Activists can now appeal to the given definition in their advocacy efforts.
St. Petersburg law is different from the Arkhangelsk one in that it bans propaganda of "lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism" in addition to "homosexuality", and includes a definition of "propaganda" given in 2010 by the Russian Constitutional Court. It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court's definition of "propaganda" will differ from the definition used in the St. Petersburg law.
In one-two weeks the "statement of reasons" of the Court ruling will be published, outlining the reasoning used by the Court in coming to its decision.
With passing of the "gay propaganda" law, St. Petersburg saw an increase in aggression and violence against LGBT people. Radical-right organizations have already publicly justified violence against LGBT activists by the existence of this law during the attacks on May 17 International Day against Homophobia rally and other public actions.
LGBT organization "Coming Out" will continue to fight against the law of the "gay propaganda", in particular, by legally challenging specific instances of its application up to the European Court of Human Rights.