Justice Ministry to appeal ECHR ruling on Russian ‘gay propaganda law’
The Russian Justice Ministry has announced plans to appeal a ruling that found Russia’s ban on the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors discriminatory and awarded damages to several activists previously convicted under the act.
According to the statement published on the ministry’s website on Tuesday, the ban does not contradict international practices and the sole purpose of the law was to protect children’s morals and health.
The statement was released soon after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that the law, often described in the mass media as a ‘gay propaganda ban’, was discriminatory and encouraged homophobia. The court took the side of three Russian activists who were convicted in Russia for violating the ban between 2009 and 2012, and ordered the Russian state to pay compensation for damages.
One of the main sponsors of the original Russian bill, State Duma MP Vitaly Milonov (United Russia) called the ECHR ruling a “propaganda stunt” and a “bludgeon” used by neo-liberals to destroy their opponents.
“This court became an information propaganda dump quite some time ago and everyone should stop calling it a court. Because a court is something independent and important,” Milonov told RT.
“The ECHR [European Court of Human Rights] is nothing more than a branch of the propaganda machine servicing the European neoliberal circles. It has already stopped protecting the human rights and liberties, now they use it as a bludgeon for making threats,” he added.
The lawmaker also said that the ruling can be easily ignored in Russia.
The head of the Upper House committee for constitutional law, Senator Andrey Klishas, said on Tuesday that in his view, the Justice Ministry should have sent an enquiry to the Constitutional Court to check whether the potential execution of the ECHR ruling is in line with the Russian Constitution.
According to the senator’s press service, he believes that following the ECHR orders could violate the constitution, which states that the exercising of one’s rights must not infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others, as well as banning public promotion of social, racial, ethnic, or religious hatred.
“The current legislation matches public morals as they are traditionally understood in Russian society. As any legislative solution to a public request lies within the powers of the national legislative bodies, the senator’s opinion is that European entities should abstain from interfering in the internal affairs of our state,” the press service’s statement reads, as quoted by Interfax.
In 2013, Russia introduced the law banning any promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to persons under 18. Before being approved nationwide, the law had been passed at a municipal level in the city of St. Petersburg.
The law ordered fines for breaches of the ban, including in the media, on the internet and via viral advertisements. Holding LGBT rallies was also prohibited as well as distribution of information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual concepts in children, describing such relations as attractive, promoting a distorted understanding of a social equality between traditional and non-traditional relations, and also unwanted solicitation of information that could provoke interest in such relations.
In late 2015, two Communist Party lawmakers proposed an additional ban on any public demonstration of “non-traditional” sexual orientation, however this bill has not been passed by the parliament.