On February 18, Russia’s Constitutional Court agreed to review the nation’s controversial anti-gay law banning “promotion” of homosexuality, to determine if it violates rights of freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and protection from discrimination.
LGBT activists are hoping that the court will agree with plaintiffs Nikolai Alekseev, Jaroslav Yevtushenko, and Dmitry Isakov that the legislation is in violation of basic human rights that the Russian legal system is meant to grant everyone.
Such a verdict seems unlikely, however, in a country where the federal Parliament has consistently voted unanimously in favor of anti-gay legislation.
Activists have said the court review is the Russian government’s “last chance” to strike down the law themselves; if they fail to do so, they will escalate the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
One of those bringing the lawsuit, Gay Russia member Nikolai Alekseev, said in a statement, “Today we have given the Constitutional Court of Russia essentially the last chance to recognize the gay propaganda law is in opposition with the basic law of the country.
“If this is not done, then we are sure [the court in] Strasbourg will recognize these laws violate Russia’s international obligations.”
Speaking to Gay Star News, he added, “We will see this federal law repealed at some point because the international community is already legally pressuring the Russian courts.”
Unlike many others in the community, Alekseev is optimistic about the lawsuit’s chances; he also stated that “There’s a lot of talk and discussion, boycotts and stuff like that, with all this discussion you don’t see all the real legal work that has been done in the last year.
“This is what really has an effect.”
According to a study by the Levada Center, 85 percent of Russians oppose marriage equality, 27 percent believed that homosexuals need treatment, and 5 percent said that gays should be “liquidated.”
The European Council has pleaded with Russia to change the trajectory of LGBT rights in the country.
In June 2013, Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland said in a press release, “Russian authorities have an obligation to also protect LGBT people [so they] can express their views and entertain demonstrations in order to express their views. This is a fundamental principle in the European Convention on Human Rights.”