Nikolay Aleksandrovich Alekseyev alleged a violation of his right to peaceful assembly on account of the repeated ban on public events he had organised in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The applicant had organised marches to draw public attention to discrimination against the gay and lesbian minority in Russia, to promote respect for human rights and freedoms and to call for tolerance on the part of the Russian authorities. The first march was entitled ‘Pride March’ and ‘Gay Pride’ in subsequent years. Applications to hold marches were refused by the mayor of Moscow on the grounds of public order, for the prevention of riots and the protection of health, morals and the rights and freedoms of others.
Both the District Court and City Court of Moscow rejected Mr Alekseyev’s challenges against the decisions of the mayor. On each occasion Alekseyev made an application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against the Russian Federation arguing that his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) had been violated. On 17 September 2009 the Court gave notice of the applications to the Russian government and joined the applications.
The applicant complained that his right to peaceful assembly (Article 11 ECHR) had been violated, that he had not had an effective remedy (Article 13) against the alleged violation of his freedom of assembly and that the Moscow authorities’ treatment of his applications to hold the events had been discriminatory (Article 14).
The ECtHR found violations of Articles 11, 13 and 14. In regard to Article 11, the court found that the reasons given by the State for banning the events did not constitute grounds under domestic law for restricting a public event and ‘fell short of being necessary in a democratic society.’ It also noted that the mayor of Moscow had ‘expressed his determination to prevent gay parades and similar events from taking place.’
The court also found a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 11 and noted that it had been established ‘that the main reason for the ban imposed on the events organised by the applicant was the authorities’ disapproval of demonstrations which they considered to promote homosexuality.’ Consequently the applicant had suffered discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation.
The State were also found to be in violation of Article 13 as the court had not been persuaded that the judicial remedy available to the applicant would have provided adequate redress in respect of the alleged violations of the Convention.