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Gay rights activists sue Russia authorities over 2014 Winter Olympics registration

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists filed a lawsuit against Russian authorities Monday in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website]. The founders of Pride House in Sochi filed the lawsuit seeking €200,000 [Interfax report] over the Russian Justice Ministry's refusal to register Pride House for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games [official website]. Justice Svetlana Mordovina of the Krasnodar Pervomaisky Court upheld the ministry decision [Gaystarnews report] in March, labeling Pride House activities as "propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation" that can undermine state security and provoke social-religious hatred. Pride House was founded at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and then reestablished [advocacy website] at the 2012 Olympic Games in London to celebrate "sport for all" while bringing together all members and friends of the worldwide LGBT community to commemorate the Olympics and discuss relevant LGBT and sports-related topics. Regardless of the ECHR lawsuit Russia's best-known gay rights campaigner Nikolay Alexeyev has announced that advocates will attempt to open Pride House in Sochi through alternative agreements that would bypass registration with the Russian Justice Ministry. Houses are usually set by host countries' national Olympic committees independent of the International Olympic Committee [official website].

Russia has long struggled with the acceptance of homosexuality. Last week Alexeyev lost a court challenge [JURIST report] to Moscow's 100-year municipal ban on gay pride marches. He intends to appeal the decision to the ECHR, has already ordered Russia to pay Alexeyev [JURIST report] an award of 12,000 euros for non-pecuniary damages plus 17,510 euros for costs and attorneys fees (USD $41,090 total) for rejecting his license application for a gay pride gathering. In March St. Petersburg announced that the city's governor had signed into law a bill that would impose fines against people convicted of promoting homosexuality, including gays or lesbians who are open about their sexuality—individuals convicted under the law would be subject to fines between 3,000 and 5,000 rubles (US $100-160) [Moscow Times report], while organizations could be fined up to 50,000 rubles for "promoting" homosexuality. In December Senior Lecturer of Sociology at the University of Surrey Paul Johnson [university profile] wrote that the latest ban by Russian authorities on the promotion of homosexuality to minors is only the most recent violation of the ECHR ruling [JURIST comment] on the subject.

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