Irina Fedotova v Russian Federation, CCPR/C/106/D/1932/2010, 2012

The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled that Russia’s application of the Ryazan region anti ‘homosexual propaganda’ law against LGBT rights activist Irina Fedotova is in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the grounds of freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination.

In 2010, Irina Fedotova, a LGBT activist, submitted an Individual Communication to the UN Human Rights Committee. She claimed that the Russian Federation had violated her rights under Article 19 and Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In 2009 Fedotova, along with other activists, held a peaceful assembly in Moscow; a ‘Gay Pride’ which was banned by Moscow authorities. The author’s action was interrupted by police and on 6 April 2009 she was convicted under Section 3.10 of the Ryazan Region Law on Administrative Offences of 4 December 2008 (Ryazan Region Law) for having displayed posters stating slogans such as, ‘Homosexuality is normal’. The provision of the Ryazan Region Law prohibited “Public actions aimed at propaganda of homosexuality.’

The author submitted that the conviction interfered with her right to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Covenant. The author also argued that the Ryazan Region Law was based on the assumption that homosexuality is something immoral. Therefore, she claimed the law was also contrary to Article 26 of the Covenant, which states that all persons are equal before the law.

The Committee found that there was a restriction on the author’s Article 19(2) right under the Covenant, in fact this was not disputed by either party. The question was to whether the restriction was justified. The Committee found that ‘laws restricting the rights enumerated in article 19, paragraph 2, must not only comply with the strict requirements of article 19, paragraph 3, of the Covenant but must also themselves be compatible with the provisions, aims and objectives of the Covenant, including the nondiscrimination provisions of the Covenant.’

The Committee also dismissed the justification provided by the State party- that the law aimed to protect the morals, health, rights and legitimate interests of minors. The State party had not shown ‘that a restriction on the right to freedom of expression in relation to “propaganda of homosexuality” – as opposed to propaganda of heterosexuality or sexuality generally – among minors is based on reasonable and objective criteria’ and were in violation of Article 26 of the Covenant.

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