ECHR Rules Moldova’s Gay Demonstration Ban Unlawful
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Moldova’s ban on an LGBT demonstration outside the Moldovan Parliament violated human rights.
In 2005 the Chisinau Municipal Council, acting jointly with the Mayor’s office, prevented group GENDERDOC-M from peacefully demonstrating in front of the Moldovan Parliament. They cited morality concerns. This denial of rights was later upheld by the appeals courts and the country’s Supreme Court of Justice. However, the LGBT rights group, believing it had a strong case under Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights, pursued an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights.
On Tuesday, June 12, the court ruled that Moldova had indeed violated the group’s human rights. The court also called on Moldova to enact rights protections that cover sexual orientation.
Moldova’s authorities had attempted to justify their actions, saying that officials were within their power to prevent the group’s protest because the majority of the Moldovan population is against same-sex relationships. However, they later abandoned this defense, admitting a human rights violation but denying any other violations of the Convention.
The ECHR rejected those arguments however, saying “particularly weighty reasons” were needed to justify such discrimination and that discrimination “based solely on the applicant’s sexual orientation” did in fact “amount to discrimination under the Convention.”
ILGA-Europe, acting together with the International Commission of Jurists, has called the ECHR’s ruling is an important victory.
“We congratulate GENDERDOC-M and the Moldovan LGBT communities for this important legal victory,” said Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe. “The rights to peaceful assembly and expression are the fundamental rights in a democratic society and the European Court of Human Rights confirmed once again that those rights cannot be restricted on the basis of sexual orientation.”
“We hope that today’s judgment is a signal to Moldovan authorities that the discrimination against LGBT people is unacceptable and illegal and we hope that in the future they will act in accordance with the international human rights standards,” Paradis added.
“The Court today made clear that public disapproval of ‘promoting homosexuality’ may not be used as a basis to interfere with the exercise of fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of assembly,” said Alli Jernow, ICJ’s Senior Legal Advisor for the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Project. “When used as a rationale for official action, it is nothing more than discrimination.”
This ruling may have wider implications, for instance where several Russian jurisdictions have enacted bans on the “promotion” of LGBT identity in the public sphere. These have been used to prevent Pride parades and protests.
Currently, Moldova has no LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination laws, while Pride events were banned in the period 2005-2008. While same-sex relationships are not criminalized, gay couples receive no partnership recognition, and trans people have little legal recourse for gender transition recognition.