The Russian law banning the promotion of homosexuality breaches articles of the European treaty, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday.
Under current legislation, any event or act regarded by the authorities as an attempt to promote homosexuality to minors is illegal. The law has prevented gay pride marches and been used to detain gay rights activists. Private individuals deemed to be promoting “homosexual behaviour among minors” face roughly $85 fines, while officials risk paying 10 times that amount and businesses and schools can be fined up to $8,500.
The court ruled that Russia’s 2013 “gay propaganda” law is discriminatory and encourages homophobia. The law “reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia”, the ruling said, and violated people’s right to freedom of expression. The law violates Article 10 (freedom of expression) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights, said the court.
The law “served no legitimate public interest,” according to the court, but Russia’s justice ministry argued that the law is aimed “exclusively at protecting the morals and health of children,” according to BBC News.
The court’s decision was “anti-national,” United Russia Party MP Vitaly Milonov told BBC News.
“It is absolutely harmful, and those who set up this decision are enemies of Europe … We will support the institution of a traditional strong family in future and shield children from attacks by all manner of minorities.”
Pro-Kremlin politicians and Orthodox Church leaders saw the court’s ruling as an attempt to force liberal “European values” on a country whose leaders want to preserve “traditional values.” The Russian Justice Ministry pledged to appeal the “unjust decision” in three months, according to NBC News.
The ruling will likely strain already poor relations between Russia and the Strasbourg-based court, which said Moscow had violated the European Convention on Human Rights in all but six of its 228 judgements in Russian cases in 2016.
The “way this law has been applied shows that it is not aimed at protecting minors, but at removing LGBT people, an enormous social group, from the public space, and at stripping them of their right to speak out or fight for their rights” Russian activist Nikolai Alekseyev said.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993.