Unlawful ban of a demonstration for LGBTI rights

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Genderdoc-M v. Moldova (App no 9106/06)

Briefed on: 11 September 2015

  • Case presented by Doina Ioana Straisteanu, independent human rights lawyer.
  • Judgment of the European Court of Human Court of Human Rights

Case summary: This case concerns an Article 11 violation of the applicant NGO’s right to peaceful assembly on account of the ban on a demonstration planned to be held in Chisinau in May 2005 in front of the Parliament to encourage the adoption of laws for the protection of sexual minorities from discrimination. In addition, the European Court found a lack of an effective remedy on account of the post-hoc character of the judicial remedy available in the
domestic legislation (violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 11), and that the applicant NGO had been subjected to discrimination on account of the authorities’ disapproval of demonstrations which they considered to promote homosexuality (violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 11).

Key legal points: While welcoming the progress and steps taken by the Moldovan authorities, Genderdoc-M has still experienced violent disruption during assemblies held between 2013 and 2015. On 4 May 2015, the denial of a 2013 demonstration was included in a new application to the European Court. Subsequent assemblies in 2014 and 2015, despite being carefully planned and strategized, were similarly obstructed. Genderdoc-M lodged an application to the Court in respect of these events in May 2015 as well.

Key recommendations made by civil society:

The CoM should keep the case under enhanced supervision. Furthermore, it should ask the Moldovan authorities to:

  • Train law enforcement and local public authorities about LGBT rights and how to properly assess the need to balance the freedom of assembly for opposing groups.
  • Introduce legislation and appropriate sanctions against hate speech and hate crime.
  • Identify and adopt preventive measures that law enforcement should take in response to protests and extremist violence against the LGBT community.
  • Apply the legislation sanctioning violation of the right of freedom of assembly consistently.

The Committee of Ministers’ decisions: In September 2015, the CoM “noted with satisfaction the reforms made in the Moldovan legislation,” and invited information on the work carried out by the newly created Anti-discrimination Council. It further invited authorities to provide information on how appeal proceedings can be concluded with sufficient time in instances where a court bans a public event or changes its time or venue. It “strongly encouraged the Moldovan authorities to continue their efforts in providing security protection to demonstrators against counter demonstrators” in similar public events. The judgment remains under enhanced supervision.