European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Moscow Authorities Fail to Ensure Safety for LGBT Communities

On the eve of Russia accepting its presidency of the Council of Europe, on 27 May 2006 Moscow authorities have dispersed a peaceful demonstration in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and failed to ensure the safety of its participants. The events resulted in violence by Russian Orthodox extremists and neo-Nazi groups against LGBT people and their supporters. Earlier this month the mayor of Moscow Yuriy Luzhkov had refused to authorise a gay parade. “We will not even consider this matter” he said in an interview to a Russian radio station one day before the event.

ILGA-Europe expresses its deep concern with the recent events in Moscow and reminds the Russian authorities that freedom of assembly is a basic human right, guaranteed by Article 31 of the Russian Constitution and Article 11 of the European Convention for Human Rights. ILGA-Europe is also concerned by the role Russian politicians and faith organisations have played in inciting violence and hatred towards LGBT people.

Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe said: “We are appalled with the hateful discourse of some Russian politicians and faith organisations. Holding a public demonstration in support of LGBT rights is not about Western values or a special right. Freedom of assembly is a universal right, so too is the right of any citizen to live in security and express him/herself freely”.

ILGA-Europe calls upon the Russian authorities to reverse the ban on holding a gay parade and refrain from making comments which promote hatred and violence towards LGBT people. We also hope that Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union will express their outrage at lawless actions of the Moscow mayor and put pressure on the Russian government to ensure that next year’s parade is safe and legal. In this context we also call upon the European Commission to provide support to the Russian and other East European LGBT movements, particularly by making an explicit reference to the LGBT rights in the next European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) cycle.

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 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender 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).