ECHR communicated the complaints of LGBT activists that became the victims of homophobic attacks

The European Court of Human Rights has communicated several complaints of LGBT activists who suffered from the homophobic attacks in May and June 2012 and in October and January 2013, all of the attacks as one case. The court raised questions whether the local authorities respected their obligation to prevent the ill-treatment of the applicants and whether the applicants were discriminated because of their sexual orientation. The court also asked questions whether the authorities provided for the applicants the freedom for a peaceful assembly and whether they did everything necessary to prevent the violence of homophobic adversaries of the activists.

One of these cases was a complaint filed by the lawyer Olga Gnezdilova supported by the Russian LGBT Network. The complaint filed with the ECHR on January 29, 2015 concerned the violations of articles 3, 6, 10, 11, 13, and 14 of the Convention on Human Rights pointed out by applicants Pavel Lebedev and Andrei Nasonov.

At the beginning of January 2013, Pavel Lebedev and Andrei Nasonov submitted to the Voronezh administration a report about picketing on January 20 to draw the public attention to the fact that adoption of the Article 6.13.11 (the so-called "propaganda law") was inadmissible. The picket had been approved by the authorities. Soon the activists got to know that the nationalist groups were planning to disrupt the picket. Moreover, the applicants started receiving murder threats which they reported to the Centre for Extremism Prevention, to the Investigative Committee and the Department for Interaction with Law Enforcement Agencies.

On January 20, 2013, two events took place in the centre of Voronezh: the picket of applicants and the counter-meeting. Participants of the counter-meeting wore masks, threw various objects at the applicants, threatened to kill the applicants and called for violence. They also caused bodily injuries to both applicants. The police did nothing to stop the participants of the counter-meeting. And the next day, the Russian MIA General Administration of the Voronezh region even published on its website a note of acknowledgement to the participants of the counter-meeting (this note was later deleted but the information about it already appeared in the media).

The applicants appealed to the court to rule the actions and omissions of the police illegal and not ensuring the safety of the applicants, but the court refused to meet these requirements. The applicants also applied to the court for the prosecution and initiating criminal proceedings against Mr. Zaytsev (who surrendered to the authorities) who had attacked them. In August 2013, the attacker was sentenced to 2 months of community services, but in January 2014 he was released from punishment. As a result, no one was brought to the criminal or administrative responsibility, and Pavel Lebedev and Andrei Nasonov filed a complaint with the ECHR.

In May 2015, the ECHR ruled in favour of the applicants for a similar case of "Idenoba and others against Georgia". This case concerned a peaceful demonstration organized in Tbilisi in May 2012, dedicated to the International Day Against Homophobia, which was violently disrupted by the adversaries whose number exceeded that of the participants. 13 applicants who took part in the march complained, in particular, that the Georgian authorities could not protect them from the violent attacks of counter-demonstrators and effectively investigate the incident. The lawyer of the Russian LGBT Network Andrey Meltsaev notes, "this case is one of the first cases when the ECHR found the violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation). In fact, the details of the incident in Voronezh are similar to this case, so we believe that the ECHR will adjudicate similarly."

A few months ago, the ECHR communicated one more case concerning violence against LGBT and the inaction of law enforcement agencies. A complaint filed by Dmitry Chizhevsky, who was a victim of the attack on the Community Center LaSky in St. Petersburg in 2013. Several people were injured during the attack, and Dmitry Chizhevsky lost the sight in one eye. A criminal case was initiated under Article 213 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism), but in March 2015 it was suspended owing to the failure to identify the person to be charged.

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