Russian Court’s Rejection of Draconian Interpretation of Anti-LGBT Laws a Positive Step
Following the passage in Russia of several laws outlawing so-called homosexual propaganda the Russian Supreme Court in a decision released today clarified the definition of the term and prohibited some of the most draconian interpretations used by local authorities. Freedom House applauds this small but important decision though calls for repeal of these pernicious laws which restrict harmless speech and violate the fundamental right to freedom of expression.
The Russian LGBT Network and an activist in Arkhangelsk Oblast filed suit asking that the prohibition on homosexual propaganda in that region be struck down. The decision does not go that far, only rejecting an interpretation of the law which would ban any public distribution of information or public event about homosexuality that was not openly condemnatory. Similar laws have been passed in at least 5 Russian regions, and are being considered in several others.
While a step forward, the Court’s decision leaves the Arkhangelsk law in place, confirms its consistency with Russian and international standards, and finds that there is just cause to prohibit the sharing of information with minors that puts LGBT people in positive light or confirms their equality with heterosexual people. Moreover, the Court’s decision applies only to “neutral” information, casting significant doubt about how it will apply to those who advocate for the rights of LGBT people or work in other areas such as public health and AIDS prevention.