2014-09-26 10:05:00

Ban on gay propaganda among minors doesn't restrict sexual minorities' rights - Russian Constitutional Court

St. Petersburg, September 26, Interfax - The Russian Constitutional Court has issued a decision on the claim filed by gay rights activists contesting the federal law banning the promotion of homosexuality among minors, reiterating that this law does not restrict citizens' rights based on sexual orientation.

The Constitutional Court decision was posted on the court's website. It was made without a public hearing. The claim was filed with the Constitutional Court by Nikolay Alexeyev, the founder of the Moscow gay pride parade, and gay rights activists Yaroslav Yevtushenko and Dmitry Isakov. They all were found guilty of violating the Code of Administrative Violations and were given 4,000 rubles fines.

The claimants claimed that Article 6.21 of the Russian Code of Administrative Violations contradicts some provisions of the Constitution.

Having considered the claim, the Constitutional Court decided that the legislator's purpose was to establish a balance between personal autonomy and the public interest with regard for the traditional ideas of marriage, family and motherhood in Russian society, in which many religious people are represented.

The Constitutional Court reiterated that the purpose of the ban is to prevent minors from excessively focusing on issues relating to sexual relations. The court said no norms of international law require countries to create conditions for promoting, supporting and recognizing same-sex unions.

The contested provisions do not envisage measures to ban homosexuality or officially condemn it and cannot be regarded as restricting the rights of citizens based on their sexual orientation, the Constitutional Court said. The contested law does not envision an automatic ban on the dissemination of any information on non-traditional sexual relations, either.

The law only prohibits public action leading to the popularization of non-traditional sexual relations among minors. The contested provisions of the Code of Administrative Violations do not allow for a broad interpretation of the ban, the court said.

The court decided that the claimants have a right to contest the decisions made on their cases.

"The Russian Constitutional Court has found that the contested provision does not contradict the Constitution. It also gave a constitutional law interpretation, which shows all law enforcers that a broad interpretation of the ban is unacceptable and it is compulsory for everyone, including courts. Such an approach is comparable to the approach used by the Russian Constitutional Court to recognize the unconstitutionality of some part of some provision," Constitutional Court Judge Nikolay Bondar said, commenting on the court decision.

Bondar reiterated that the Russian Constitutional Court's decision on the debated article is based on the fact that it does not envision interference in the sphere of individual autonomy, including people's sexual self-determination.

"Secondly, the court ruled that this provision is not aimed at banning or officially condemning non-traditional sexual relations. Thirdly, this article does not prevent impartial public debate of the legal status of sexual minorities, including by holding public events according to the procedures established by law. However, minors should not be involved in the relevant events, no matter whether it's rallies or debates, and the disseminated information should not be targeted at them," Bondar said.

"We not only fully recognize, but also consistently observe the main acts of international law dealing with personal rights and freedoms, including people's sexual self-determination. As to the practices used by some European countries, which, among other things, involve the deformation of traditional socio-cultural values in the sphere of family and marriage, they cannot be an example to us. Every country has a sovereign right to decide on these issues in its own way. That, naturally, is also true for Russia, and we also have the absolute right to make such decisions in accordance with our Constitution, and the moral, ethical and socio-cultural values of our society," Bondar said.