Russia’s laws banning the promotion of homosexuality are discriminatory and breach the right to freedom of expression, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday.
The legislation was an example of “predisposed bias on the part of a heterosexual majority against a homosexual minority,” the Strasbourg-based court ruled by a majority of six to one, with the sole Russian member of the panel dissenting.
Russia was ordered to pay a total of 43,225 euros in damages to three gay rights activists who brought the case after being fined for holding demonstrations against the laws.
The three had argued that the laws, including a 2013 federal law banning “the promoting of non-traditional sexual relationships among minors,” prevented them from campaigning for gay rights.
The court dismissed an argument by Russia that the promotion of same-sex relationships had to be banned as a risk to public health and the demographic situation.
In a sharp rebuke, it added: “To the extent that the minors who witnessed the applicants’ campaign were exposed to the ideas of diversity, equality and tolerance, the adoption of these views could only be conducive to social cohesion.”
In May, New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch said it had confirmed allegations that authorities in Russia’s southern Chechnya region had abducted and tortured dozens of gay men.
The European Parliament had called on Moscow to protect the rights of gay people and investigate the allegations.