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Moscow court upholds 100-year city ban on gay pride marches

A city court in Moscow on Friday refused to overturn the municipal government's ban on gay pride marches for the next century. The court affirmed the Moscow municipal government ruling that any public gatherings that could be classified as gay pride marches are prohibited from March 2012 until May 2112. Russia's best-known gay rights campaigner Nikolay Alexeyev challenged the ban in court [BBC report] after he was refused a license for a parade. The city government argues that a gay pride parade would risk causing public disorder and that most Muscovites do not support such an event. Alexeyev has stated that he never actually expected to be granted a license, but needed the refusal to serve as the basis for a cause of action in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website]. 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. The ECHR stated that Russia had discriminated against the activist on the basis of his sexual orientation. Alexeyev stated he intends to appeal to ECHR again as he continues his judicial fight against the ban.

Russia has long struggled with the acceptance of homosexuality. 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. Internationally the UN has attempted to pass resolutions aimed at ending sexuality discrimination worldwide, but has faced difficulty passing resolutions on gay rights issues. Last year UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] passed the "Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity" resolution [text, PDF], which is the first resolution to call for an end to sexuality discrimination worldwide [JURIST report]. In 2010 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] called for countries around the world to abolish laws discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals [JURIST report].

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