"Coming Out" Files Complaint ECHR Against Homophobic Hate Crime

Published: August 11, 2014

 On August 11, “Coming Out” lawyers filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights against the homophobic attack on an activist during the International Day against Homophobia “Rainbow Flashmob” rally of May 2012.

On May 17, 2012, Gleb Likhotkin, a "Christian orthodox activist", shot Boris Romanov with a gas gun. The latter was holding a balloon saying "Jesus loves men and women equally” during “Coming Out”s annual LGBT rally, “Rainbow Flashmob.” The attack resulted in chemical injuries to Boris’ face and eyes. The offender faced trial and was found guilty of hooliganism with the use of a weapon; the victim was awarded moral compensation. The motive of homophobic hatred, i.e. hatred towards a social group LGBT, was not taken into account either by the court or by the investigators. In 2014, the lawsuit was dismissed due to amnesty.

The complaint states that the Russian government violated three articles of the European Convention. First, the police and the judges did not consider seriously the homophobic motive of the attack, violating the ban on humiliating treatment (Article 3). Secondly, the right to freedom of assembly was violated, because the shot was fired during the public event, and the police should have provided the participants with enough security (Article 11). Finally, the applicant and his lawyer point at discrimination based on sexual orientation (Article 14).

 “Coming Out” lawyers emphasize that the police regularly refuses to investigate crimes against LGBT which occur during peaceful meetings. In 2013 there were several similar attacks, including the beating of four participants of the St. Petersburg pride event on June 29th; the attack on the office of “LaSky” organization in November, resulting in one activist losing sight in one eye, and another hit on the back. None of these crimes was qualified as a hate crime, which normally implies a more serious punishment.

European Court of Human Rights has never passed a judgment on complaints from victims of homophobic or transphobic hate crimes, and this precedent would protect LGBT communities in the future in many countries, not the least in Russia, where a positive decision would help to ensure proper investigations and stop impunity for homophobic perpetrators.

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