UN Human Rights Committee Gives Russia 6 Months to Justify Gay Picket Ban in Moscow
Activists hope for a decision before next year’s Moscow Pride
MOSCOW (GayRussia.Ru) The United Nations Human Rights Committee based in Geneva, Switzerland, gave Russia six months to give its position on a complaint sent by Nikolai Alekseev, Moscow Pride Chief Organizer.
“In accordance with rule 97 of the Committee’s rules of procedure, a copy of the communication has been sent to the State party today, with the request that any information (…) should reach the committee within 6 months” states the letter received from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The case refers to the ban of the picketing in front of the Iranian Embassy in Moscow with the aim to condemn executions of homosexuals and minors in this country and to appeal for the repeal of the death penalty.
“It is the first time that we use this procedure of individual complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee and we are satisfied to see that it took only one month to the Committee to open the case,” Nikolai Alekseev said tuesday at the Slavic Pride Press Conference in Moscow.
“This procedure is much faster than in the European Court where we already have loads of applications pending for more than two years without result.” he added.
He expressed hope that the UN Human Rights Committee will condemn Russia for the breaches of the rights of gays and lesbians before May 2010 when the fifth Moscow Pride is scheduled.
“This Committee is one of the very few international means we have, to appeal against unlawful decisions of Russian authorities, together with the European Court.”
The picket was supposed to take place on July 19 last year from 1 to 2 p.m. with up to 30 participants. Notification was sent by Moscow Gay Pride organizers to the Prefecture of the Central Administrative area of Moscow in full accordance with the law on 11 July. The same day, deputy prefect Galina Boryatinskaya denied permission for the event.
The reason given for the refusal of permission to stage the picket was in the “interests of public order”.
However, two similar pickets – on July 19 2006 and July 19 2007 – were permitted. It is widely believed that last year’s ban was as a result of the word “homosexual” being included in the application – the word had not been used on applications for the previous two years.
In their complaint against Russia to the UN Human Rights Committee, the organizers claim that by banning their public event Russian authorities breached Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees the right to freedom of peaceful assembly to everyone.
The complaint by Russian gay activists was sent on the basis of the procedure enshrined in the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights drafted in 1966.
The Covenant allows individuals to apply to the Committee against the states which breached their rights given by the Pact. Russia recognized the jurisdiction of the UN Human Rights Committee in 1992.
The complaint sent to the UN Human Rights Committee today was the first one concerning the bans of public events of sexual minorities in Russia which was sent to the UN.
Russian activists have appealed so far 170 banned marches to the European Court of Human Rights based in Strasbourg. The first complain was received by the Court in January 2007. To date, the case has still not been assigned.
Pickets in front of Iranian Embassies have been organized around the world to commemorate the two gay Iranian boys who were executed on July 19, 2005.
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