ECHR finds Russia discriminated against LGBTQ teacher News
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ECHR finds Russia discriminated against LGBTQ teacher

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held Tuesday that Russia discriminated against a teacher when she was fired after posting pictures that indicated her sexual orientation.

In the case of A.K. v. Russia, A.K, the applicant, was a teacher in a state school in Russia. In November 2014, a Russian NGO collected on social media private pictures, including that of her kissing other women. After the school received the information, it asked her to quit, regarding such conduct as “her propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation.” Even though she opposed the decision, she was finally dismissed in December of the same year. After that, she brought complaints before the Russian national courts, but all of them were unsuccessful. As a result, the case was lodged before ECHR in 2016, before Russia left the ECHR.

The ECHR found violations of the right to privacy and the prohibition of discrimination under Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. In the judgment, the proportionality of the dismissal was mainly assessed. The court denied the Russian courts’ claim that the dismissal could be justified by her sexual orientation. Additionally, it emphasized that the right to private life covered an individual’s sexual orientation, which can be expressed privately and publicly, while indicating that other ways were available for the school to take for the protection of public morals. Such disproportionate interference led to the violation of her private life, and in conjunction with it, discrimination. The court ordered Russia to pay 22,500 EUR in total to the applicant as compensation.

During the past several years, Russia has strengthened its attacks on the LGBTQ community, labelling expressions of different sexual orientations as propaganda. In 2022, the parliament passed a bill prohibiting the spread of LGBTQ information to any people. At that time, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk expressed deep concern about the violation of LGTQ people’s fundamental rights by the legislation. In March 2024, a Russian watchdog listed the LGBTQ public movement as a terrorist organization, the same as Al-Qaeda and Taliban. LGBTQ people in Russia have faced difficulty not only protecting their human rights, but also expressing their personal sexual orientation publicly and privately.