Russia in the European Court for Human Rights: "Gays Provoke Extremism"

Published: September 26, 2011

The Deputy Minister of Justice, the Russian ombudsman to the European Court, Georgii Matyushkin answered the questions of the Strasbourg judges with regards to the case of the Tyumen LGBT organization “Raduzhny Dom”.
 
This spring the European Court of Human Rights addressed the appeal regarding the Russian government’s refusal to register the organization and the discrimination against “Raduzhny Dom” due to the sexual orientation of its members. Furthermore, the Court submitted a number of questions to the Russian government.
 
Citing the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Georgii Matyushkin wrote: “The right to free assembly is not unconditional and can be restricted by right of the law, so long as it defends the rights and freedoms of others”.
 
Further in the memorandum he repeated the arguments, with which the Russian registration authorities had justified their refusal to “Raduzhny Dom”:  “The activities of this organization related to propaganda for untraditional sexual orientations could result in an undermining of the safety of Russian society and government. The spiritual values of society are being undermined, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation are being undermined in terms of preserving her populationÉ  Moreover, the activities of this organization could arouse social and religious hatred and hostility, which also signifies the extreme nature of their activities. Propaganda for untraditional sexual orientationsÉ is encroaching on the institutions of marriage and family "as protected under the law”.
 
On the grounds of the above-listed statements, Georgii Matyushkin concludes that the government’s refusal to register "Raduzhny Dom", “is not arbitrary; it is based on the imperative demands under the current legislation of the Russian Federation.” And the central conclusion of the Russian representative in Strasburg – this refusal to the gays in Tyumen “was not based in discrimination:” “Raduzhny Dom” cannot consider itself a victim of discrimination against the LGBT community.”
 
As a result, the official representative of Russia at the Strasburg court considers the organization’s appeal “wholly ungrounded” and has asked the court to dismiss the appeal.
 
Interestingly, after addressing the European Court, the Russian Ministry of Justice already twice, at least, has refused "Raduzhny Dom" during registration, while the Tyumen administration time again has prohibited gay activists from taking public action.
 
In December of 2007 gay activists from “Rainbow House” submitted a complaint to the European Court of Justice, and in March of 2008 it was given a unique number.  On December 17th, 2007, the Regional Court of Tyumen turned down the complaint of “Rainbow House” on the activity of the registering body. It was the last instance in Russia that was able to defend the interests of the local gay community. Prior to this, the Central District Court of Tyumen, the Tagansky Court of Moscow and the Moscow City Court also turned down the complaints by “Rainbow House”.  LGBT activists could get neither effective legal protection nor fair trial in Russia.
 
The organization was born in November of 2006, and problems with the registering body began in December of the same year. It was the first time when public agents refused official registration. Referring to the Family Code of Russia, the officials called the organization of sexual minorities extremist and declared that it [the organization] threatened “the territorial integrity of Russia”.
 
The case of “Rainbow House” drew a wide public response in Russia itself and abroad. The situation with the organization was reflected in the reports of the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights Without Frontiers, and Moscow Helsinki Watch Group.
 
Tyumen’s organization “Rainbow House” is a member of Russian LGBT Network. The answer of Russian authorities confirmed the opinion of Igor Kochetkov, the chairman of Russian LGBT Network, who declared in March 2011 that Russia would hardly be able to produce convincing evidence for the refusal of registering an LGBT organization to Strasbourg Court.
 
“In 2007 the officials of Tyumen set the whole world laughing when they asserted that a little regional public organization might have undermined sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russian Federation”, noted the human rights activist.

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