The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and ILGA Europe intervened on behalf of the claimant in Genderdoc-M v Republic of Moldova, a case concerning permission to stage a demonstration in support of laws protecting sexual minorities.
The case, Genderdoc-M v Republic of Moldova, concerned the government of Moldova’s denial of permission to Genderdoc-M, a non-governmental organisation representing LGBT individuals, to hold a peaceful demonstration in front of the Parliament on 27 May 2005. The government argued that the refusal was based on ‘public order’ and ‘public morality’. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) considered violations under Articles 11 (freedom of assembly and association) and 14 (non-discrimination) of the ECHR.
The intervenors, the ICJ and ILGA Europe, submitted that the protection of morals, commonly referred to as public morality, is not and can never be an objective and reasonable justification under Article 14. Although it may at times be a permissible limitation under Article 11 and several other Articles of the Convention, public morality cannot serve to justify a distinction in treatment under the prohibition on discrimination. The ICJ and ILGA stated that ‘the protection of morals, commonly referred to as public morality, is not and can never be an objective and reasonable justification under Article 14 [European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) the right to equality]…Public morality cannot serve to justify a distinction in treatment under the prohibition on discrimination.’
The ICJ and ILGA’s intervention is split into three parts. The first looks at the ways in which public morality and disorder are used to justify interferences with the rights of LGBT individuals and organizations. The second part examines the application of the public morality doctrine to matters of sexual orientation and reviews how public morality as a permissible limitation on freedoms of assembly, association and expression has been read narrowly by international human rights institutions such as the UN Human Rights Committee. The third part discusses the European Court and national courts’ approaches to public morality and non-discrimination.