Russian judge backs another gay demo ban

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A Moscow court has dismissed a complaint from the organisers of the picket in support of the EU visa ban for Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov for his violations of human rights and particularly the right to freedom of assembly.

The picket, organised by several organizations including LGBT Human Rights Project, GayRussia.Ru and movement LGBT Rights, was supposed to take place on 27th June, the day Mr. Luzhkov was being confirmed by the City’s Duma (parliament) for other term in office.

Organisers planned to picket the office of the representation of the European Commission in the Russian Federation and give the letter to EU authorities asking for the EU entrance ban for Luzhkov.

Organisers informed the prefercture of the Central Area of Moscow about the picket on 22nd June.

On 25th June the deputy prefect informed them that the prefecture has nothing against holding of the picket two days later.

On 27th June, right before the start of the picket, organisers were given another letter signed by deputy prefect dated 26th June in which the picketing was banned due to rebuilding works next to the office of the European Commission representative.

The prefecture said this created a threat to the security of the participants.

Around 25 activists showed up to take part in the picket with placards carrying the slogans “Luzhkov: Moscow – Strasbourg – The Hague” and “Europe, Ban Luzhkov’s EU entrance.”

Three of the participants, including the chief organiser Kirill Nepomnyaschiy, were arrested by the police and taken to the local police station. They were later released.

In their complaint to Taganski district court organisers maintained that prefecture breached the time limits set by the law for the consideration of the notifications and did not offer any alternative place or time of the event.

Organisers insisted that the ban on the picket was due to the information that appeared in the media after the authorisation that there are representatives of sexual minorities among the organisers and participants.

The representative of the prefecture said in court on Wednesday that prefecture did not ban the event but terminated it due to security reasons.

In which case they were not obliged to offer any alternative place.

Despite the fact that the second letter of the prefecture clearly bans the picket and not terminates it.

According to Russian law a public event can be terminated only after it already started.

Judge Mikhail Kazakov sided with the arguments of the prefecture and dismissed organiser’s complaint.

Moscow Pride organiser Nicolas Alexeyev, who was one of the organisers, of the picket, was in court yesterday.

“What is going on in Moscow courts is really becoming outrageous,” he said.

“There is not rule of law anymore because the law is being interpreted in the way that is suitable for the authorities.

“Yesterday’s decision is the outrageous proof of it. We are going to appeal the decision to Moscow City Court when it is ready in the final version and then we will send this case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.”

Next week the same judge, Mikhail Kazakov, will consider another ban on the picket against homophobia organised by gays in front of the office of the Fair Russia political party.

On 10th December the same judge will consider the ban of the picket against restrictions on blood donations by homosexuals which was supposed to take place next to the Health Ministry.

“Our application concerning the ban of the first Gay Pride in Moscow on 27th May 2006 is in Strasbourg since January and shortly we are going to send to the European Court the application concerning the ban of this year’s Gay Pride,” said Mr Alexeyev.