A historic ruling in Russia could be the key to finding an end to the ‘gay propaganda’ laws.
Back in March 2009, gay activist Irina Fet protested against the regional homophobic law in Ryazan.
She held a placard saying ‘Homosexuality – It’s Normal’ and ‘I am proud of my homosexuality’ outside schools and libraries.
Arrested, charged and fined 1,500 rubles ($46, €34), Fet was found guilty of informing minors about homosexuality.
While her group Moscow Pride appealed the charge, they lost at a local court.
After that, the case was sent to the UN Human Rights Committee to challenge the arrest.
On 31 October 2012, the UN committee ruled in their favor, describing the law as ‘discriminatory’ and ‘arbitrary’.
They agreed the law went against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, by violating Fet’s right to freedom of expression and protection from discrimination.
Ryazan regional court today (2 October) has now agreed with the international ruling, and cancelled all prior charges and verdicts.
Moscow Pride is now entering into a separate process with the Finance Minister to compensate Fet for moral damages, which could take up to two years.
Nikolai Alekseev, a lawyer and one of Russia’s foremost gay rights activists, has described it as a ‘severe blow’ to the country’s gay propaganda laws.
Speaking to Gay Star News, he said: ‘Full justice is restored. It is written now in a Russian court. It is a decision that is extremely important.
‘The Russian judiciary is moving forward with the international courts, and agreeing with their view of the legal aspects of sexual orientation.’
While the law being discussed is the regional gay propaganda ban in Ryazan, and not the federal nationwide ban, one ruling could affect the other.
But because one ruling against a regional law has effectively repealed the ban, Russian courts do not rule using precedents.
‘We will see this federal law repealed at some point because the international community is already legally pressuring the Russian courts,’ Alekseev said.
Denied three times to hold a public event in the context of the ‘propaganda’ law, the gay rights activist sees this could be the key to Russia being forced to repeal.
He added: ‘There’s a lot of talk and discussion, boycotts and stuff like that, with all this discussion you don’t see all the real legal work that has been done in the last year.
‘This is what really has an effect.’