European Court of Human Rights rejects Russian “gay” marriage case

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A straight human rights activist who tried to register a same-sex union with the owner of a gay website has been denied a hearing before the European Court of Human Rights.

Decision cannot be appealed.

In January 2005 activist Edward Murzin, then a deputy of the Bashkortostan parliament, and the owner of the site Gay.Ru, Eduard Mishin, attempted to register their same-sex union in one of Moscow’s registration offices. They were denied on the grounds of Russian family legislation.

Mr Murzin appealed in the Russian courts and then sent his complaint against Russia to the European Court of Human Rights.

Another case before the European court will also ask it to consider if gay couples have the right to marry.

Stephane Charpin and Bertrang Charpentier were married in Begles, a small town in Bordeaux, in 2004.

They are the only same-sex couple in France to have married, rather than undertaken a Civil Solidarity Pact.

The government announced in 2004 that their union was illegal, and that decision was finalised the Court of Cassation, France’s highest appeals court, in 2007.

It is not known when the ECHR will consider their case.

In its letter to the Russian applicant the European Court said:

“On 13 June 2008 European Court of Human Rights, acting as a Committee of three judges (K. Hajiyev, chairman, S.E. Jebens and G. Nicolaou) in accordance with Article 27 of the Convention, decided on the basis of Article 28 of the Convention to pronounce the above mentioned application unacceptable, because it is not in accordance with the requirement set forth in Articles 34 and 35 of the Convention.

“In accordance with the materials of the case, which the Court has at its disposal, as well as the degree, to which the complaints are in Court’s competence, the Court decided that they do not contain violations of the rights and liberties, set forth in the Convention and its Protocols.”

Edward Murzin, who at the time of the attempt to register a same-sex marriage denied he was gay, is in a heterosexual marriage and has two children.

The head of Russian LGBT Human Rights Project GayRussia.Ru Nicolas Alexeyev said:

“I have big respect for Edward Murzin, who took part in Moscow Pride events in 2006 and 2007, but the project of same-sex marriage legalisation in Russia through this way was deemed to failure from its start.

“The European Court deals with human rights breaches and the rights of Mr Murzin were not breached by anyone in this case.

“He said from the very beginning that his marriage with Mr Mishin was a sham and is only done to fight for the rights of sexual minorities.

“Thus, the Strasbourg court was right that it did not consider Mr Murzin a victim of the human rights violations.

“Apart from Mr Murzin’s heterosexuality there were other obstacles for the court perspectives of the case.

“His groom, Mr Mishin, came to the registration office without his passport and tried to register his same-sex marriage under his pseudonym, which is not allowed under Russian family law.

“It is clear that the applicants buried any chances for the positive court decisions in their case on the day they applied for marriage certificate.”

The 47-member Council of Europe predates the European Union.

It promotes and protects democracy, educational and sporting co-operation and created the European Court of Human Rights.

The legal situation on same-sex partnerships varies across the Council of Europe area: around 20 countries enable registration of a partnership, while a similar number have no legal recognition at all.

A few countries expressly prohibit same-sex marriage in their constitutions, while three member states currently allow civil marriage of same-sex partners.