Eastern Europe and Central Asia: The defence of LGBTI rights in jeopardy

04/10/2013
Urgent Appeal
en ru

In many countries of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, defenders of the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) people and their organisations increasingly face obstacles to their activities. LGBTI issues and sexual minorities are generally met with hostility among the general public, in countries where homophobia is high.

In addition, the recent multiplication of legal initiatives aiming to restrict and/or neutralise any possibility to promote and defend LGBTI rights, coupled with slandering declarations by officials, contribute to fuelling attacks and acts of violence often perpetrated by extremist groups against LGBTI rights defenders, in general contexts of impunity.

The present study outlines some cases of harassment and obstacles against defenders promoting and defending LGBTI rights in five countries. That study is not exhaustive, and mainly relies on information received and gathered by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

Belarus

In Belarus the situation for LGBTI rights defenders is increasingly precarious. Belarus decriminalised homosexuality in 1994 only, and still today the LGBTI community faces persecution. In January 2013, the situation escalated, with police raids on gay bars and questioning of gay activists. There are now fears that defending homosexuality might be de facto criminalised under the new ‘anti-terrorism policy’, adopted on July 31, 2013. Also in July 2013, the Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus proposed to follow the example of the Russian Federation and Ukraine (see below) and introduce an ‘anti-homosexual propaganda’ law in Belarus.

The context is set by the regime and the Orthodox Church. The former, headed by President Aleksander Lukashenko, stirs hatred against the LGBTI community. President Lukashenko has openly insulted homosexuals, saying that they should be sent to collective farms to perform public works, that ”it is better to be a dictator than a gay” (statement made on March 4, 2012) or that he will “never forgive men for being gay” (statement made on March 15, 2013). The Russian Orthodox Church remains influential and also takes a strict, traditional (i.e. anti-gay) line on homosexuality.

In this context, LGBTI organisations in Belarus have all been denied registration. However, there exist unregistered organisations, such as GayBelarus or the Gay Alliance Belarus. In January 2013, GayBelarus tried to legally register. Only three days after they submitted the documents to the Ministry of Justice, they faced persecution. The police organised raids on gay clubs and questioned gay activists. In Vitebsk the police burst into a gay night club and ordered everyone to stand against the wall. Everything was filmed by the police, and the owners of the club had to state their name, profession, and sexual orientation. Three similar raids took place in gay clubs in Minsk, the capital. All in all, more than 60 members of GayBelarus were summoned for questioning in Minsk and seven other cities. They were interrogated about their sex lives, and about how they ‘became’ gay. Mr. Artem Ivanov, a gay activist from Brest, said the police threatened to inform his employers.

In addition, on July 31, 2013, the Prime Minister of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikhovich signed a new policy on “the fight against terrorism”. It does not explicitly mention LGBTI organisations as terrorist groups, but states that a terrorist threat might come from “illegal activity of organisations, groups or individuals that adhere to and propagate a certain ideology”. This, according to gay activists, might be used against LGBTI groups. On June 15, 2013, the Belarusian press had also reported that the Belarusian Parliament is now considering a bill that will explicitly criminalise homosexuality. The Parliament’s press officer immediately denied these claims, calling it a provocation.

Russian Federation

The situation in the Russian Federation has remained characterised by hindrances against human rights defenders who struggle against all types of discrimination, including LGBTI rights defenders. The latter have been regularly subjected to harassment by both non-State groups (often from nationalist movements) and governmental bodies, at both legislative and practical levels. Recently, local and federal legislation have further drastically restricted the ability of those defenders to assemble in order to promote and defend their rights, and the legislation on so-called “foreign agents” is used as a tool to also muzzle LGBTI rights activists. In addition, a number of statements made by Russian officials fuel the general climate of insecurity of those defenders.

Legislative restrictions to the defence of LGBTI rights

At federal level, on June 11, 2013, the Russian Duma adopted a bill banning “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations” hastily, in two final readings, and almost unanimously, as 436 Parliamentarians voted in favour, only one abstained, and nobody voted against. The text defines “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations” as “spreading information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual desires in children, describing such relations as attractive, promoting a distorted understanding of the social equality of traditional and non-traditional relations and through unwanted exposure to information that could provoke interest to such relations”. Under the pretext of protecting the rights of minors, the law bans de facto not only any demonstrations and gatherings by LGBTI activists, but aims at silencing them also on-line. It aims to punish and wipe out any expressions of tolerance towards homosexual, bisexual and transgender people, and by consequence stop all the possible work on protection of the social, political, economic and civil rights of these groups. On the day of the adoption of the text by the Russian Duma, activists protesting against the bill at the entrance of the National Assembly were attacked by violent nationalist protesters. The special polices forces failed to protect them and only arrested anti-bill demonstrators. Other activists were also later assaulted on their way home.

President Putin signed the bill prohibiting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” into law on June 29, 2013, and the text came into force the next day, after it was officially published.

The new legislation introduces amendments to several laws, including the Russian Code of Administrative Offences. This provides for up to 90 days’ suspension of activities for organisations and up to 15 days’ detention for foreign nationals followed by deportation. The new law also exposes so-called “offenders” to heavy fines. Individuals may face a fine of 4,000 - 5,000 Roubles (93 - 116 euros), while legal entities could be required to pay between 800,000 and 1 million Roubles (18,713 - 23,291 euros). Using mass media to spread any LGBT-friendly content would increase the fine for individuals up to 50,000 - 100,000 Roubles (1,169 - 2,339 euros).

The new federal anti-LGBTI legislation contradicts the Russian Constitution, which guarantees equal rights to all Russian citizens, and risks to paralyse the work of LGBTI activists and NGOs promoting universal values of human rights for all. These moves also constitute a serious violation of the provisions of the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and in particular these of Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others [...] freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms"; "to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters ”.

At local level, on February 29, 2012, a bill prohibiting public activities “promoting homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors” was approved in third reading by the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg. Shortly before the passage of that local law, on February 8, 2012, six protesters, including Russian LGBT Network Chairman Igor Kotchenov, were arrested as they were picketing around the Marinski Palace (where the City Parliament of Saint Petersburg is located) to call for the repeal of this bill. The protesters were standing away from each other so as to conform to the provisions of the legislation on demonstrations. However, the six were arrested as five of them were opening their placards. Even those who closed the placards immediately were accused of disobeying police orders. The six protesters were then brought to Saint Petersburg police station nr. 40. Five of them were released at around 4 pm, while the sixth was released earlier as she did not hold any placard. The five above-mentioned protesters were charged under Articles 20.2 pt. 2 and Article 19.3 pt. 1[1] - which can be sanctioned by up to 15 days’ imprisonment - of the Administrative Code.

It is also to be noted that the prohibition of the so-called “promotion of homosexuality” had already come into force in Ryazan region since 2006, and in Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions since 2011.

The general and institutional spread of homophobic opinions strengthens the climate of insecurity of both LGBTI defenders’ freedoms and safety. Moreover, the public comparison made in February by the President of the Legislative Committee, Mr. Vitaly Milonov, between homosexuality and drug trafficking or paedophilia has contributed to maintaining homophobia at its highest level among the Russian population. Early 2012, an article published in the pro-governmental Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper even alleged that people of “non traditional sexual orientation” were exploiting the government to impose their unusual lifestyles upon other people, and suggested that “States should have the right to act as a censor in the private domain”.

Judicial harassment of - and attacks against - Russian LGBTI organisations and their representatives

Russian LGBTI organisations face numerous persecutions, most notably under the new “foreign agent” law, adopted in 2012, which targets NGOs that receive foreign funding and are engaged in “political activities”. In a climate of smear campaigns, LGBTI defenders were among the first associations to be charged under this new law.

On June 7, 2013 the ’Side by Side’ LGBT film festival was accused of conducting “political activities” without being registered as a “foreign agent” and fined 0.5 million Roubles (11,739 euros), the heaviest fine issued so far against an organisation on the basis of the law on “foreign agents”. On June 26, 2013, ’Side by Side’ lost its appeal at the Kuybyshevskiy District Court of Saint Petersburg, where the Judge merely reduced the fine by 100,000 Roubles, down to 400,000 Roubles (around 9,500 euros), arguing that the maximum penalty of 500,000 Roubles issued in first instance was “too severe”. ’Side by Side’ is now preparing an appeal to the City Court and Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation. The first hearings were expected to take place in September 2013. In addition, on August 9, 2013, the Director of ’Side by Side’ was fined 300,000 Roubles (around 7,000 euros), and subsequently appealed the decision. Here again, the first hearings were due to take place in September 2013.

Another LGBT organisation from St Petersburg, ’Coming Out’ (Vyhod), has been facing similar harassment. On June 19, 2013, ‘Coming Out’ was fined 500,000 Roubles (11,641 euros) by the Magistrates’ Court in St. Petersburg for functioning as “foreign agent” without registering as such. On June 25, the organisation’s Director was fined 300 000 Roubles (7,500 euros) under the same charges. In July, both decisions were cancelled by the regional courts during the appeal process due to violations of formalities and to the fact that charges had passed their expiration date (three months). The Prosecutor’s office lodged an appeal against these decisions to the city court, which has yet to schedule a hearing date. Meanwhile, ‘Coming Out’ received two more letters from the Prosecutor’s office requesting that the organisation remedy the violations of the law by ceasing the activities or registering as a “foreign agent”.

Previously, on May 4, 2012, Mr. Nikolai Alexeyev, a prominent LGBTI rights activist, lawyer and Head of the LGBT Human Rights Project GayRussia.Ru, had been sentenced by the Zentralnyi District Municipal Court of St. Petersburg to a 5,000 Roubles fine (approximately 127 euros) under charges of “promoting homosexual propaganda” on the basis of the local legislation enacted in the region of Saint Petersburg a few weeks before (see above). Mr. Alexeyev had been arrested on April 12, 2012 while picketing alone in front of Smolny institute holding a sign that affirmed that “homosexuality is not a perversion”. He was then shortly detained by the authorities before being released. Mr. Alexeyev intended to refer the case to the Russian Constitutional Court and to the European Court of Human Rights, should the sentence be upheld in appeal.

Moldova

Despite its European aspirations, Moldova ranks almost the lowest in Europe when it comes to equal rights for the LGBTI community, being in the same league as Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Ukraine, according to ILGA-Europe reviews[2]. The prejudice in society is very strong indeed and does not foster progressive policymaking. According to a 2011 study by the Soros Foundation-Moldova, 68 percent of Moldovans believe LGBTI people are “dissolute, immoral, and perverse,” while 56 percent support the idea of punishing homosexual relations[3].

The situation in Moldova is ambiguous, with only one LGBTI organisation that actively works on promoting tolerance and fighting discrimination against the LGBTI community, and tempering the Orthodox Church that remains powerful and insists that ‘traditional values’ be maintained. On the other hand, the authorities promise progressive anti-discrimination laws and at the same time introduce laws that de facto ban discussing same-sex relationships.

Thus, in May 2012 Moldova adopted a law on ‘Ensuring Equality’. This came after a considerable pressure from the European Union and despite a strong opposition from the Orthodox Church and Communist Party. However, on July 12, 2013, the Moldovan Parliament amended the Moldovan Contravention Code, which now forbids the “distribution of public information [...] aimed at the propagation of prostitution, paedophilia, pornography or of any other relations than those related to marriage or family”. Offenders will face a fine of up to 8,000 lei (around 480 euros). Businesses and NGOs would additionally face a suspension of activities ranging from three months to a year. Importantly, there was no public consultation on this amendment.

Unless the amendment is revoked, the work of LGBTI rights defenders might be considerably impaired. Their work has always been a challenge, given that LGBTI people in Moldova are widely discriminated both by the society and the law.

The only LGBTI organisation in the country, the GENDERDOC-M Information Centre, is quite vibrant and continues working in spite of the difficult social and legal context. In February 2013, on Valentine’s Day, LGBTI activists organised a small march in Chişinău to assess the security situation. No incidents were reported on that day. In May 2013 the GENDERDOC-M Information Centre organised the 12th festival ‘Rainbow Over the Dniester’, where there were no incidents either. Admittedly, on May 18, 2013, the authorities decided to change the location of a march in Chişinău, since they feared clashes as groups close to the Orthodox Church, explicitly encouraged by the Bishop of Bălţi and Făleşti Markel, called for a counter-demonstration. In the end, however, clashes were avoided.

This can be perceived as evidence of a certain degree of recent progress in Moldova.

Indeed, in 2005 GENDERDOC-M had not been allowed to hold a LGBTI rights demonstration, and it was only on June 12, 2012 that the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the 2005 ban was illegal and ordered the State to pay GENDERDOC-M 11,000 euros in damages.

In 2008 another LGBTI rights demonstration had been allowed, but effectively aborted as bystanders who trapped LGBTI activists in a bus threatening their lives while police did not intervene. During the court hearing on the case ‘GENDERDOC-M vs. City Council of Bălţi’ in February 2013, a GENDERDOC-M representative was instantly insulted by some of court attendees who said: “Dirty person! Don’t sit next to her – isolate her!”. During the break announced by the judge to deliver a technical decision, some of those eight persons allowed themselves several derogatory statements and threats towards “the plaintiffs, their lawyer and all LGBTI people in Moldova”. Two weeks after, on the next hearing, the situation repeated, and the assailants went from verbal to physical assault.

Ukraine

The situation in Ukraine has remained characterised by a multiplication of attacks against LGBTI defenders by unidentified assailants and/or nationalists, such as supporters of the far-right movement Svoboda. Such attacks generally remain unpunished. At legal level, two bills are currently being tabled in Parliament that, if adopted, would result in drastic restrictions on the capacity to defend and promote LGBTI rights. Over the past years, several peaceful gatherings advocating for the rights of LGBTI people have been hindered, both because of repeated violence ahead, during and/or after such events, and/or because of arbitrary restrictions by the authorities.

Legislative threats to further restrict the defence of LGBTI rights

The Ukrainian Parliament is currently discussing two draft laws that would threaten to further limit the enjoyment of human rights of LGBTI people in the country.

Draft Law 1155 “On the prohibition of propaganda of homosexual relations aimed at children” defines propaganda of homosexuality as “any public intentional activity that spreads positive information about same-sex relationships, such as rallies, parades, demonstrations about LGBTI rights, discussions, or special courses that could negatively affect (the) development of the child”. It also provides for a ban on media disseminating positive information about homosexuality. The text considers violations as administrative offences and provides for fines of up to 2,400 euros, or a criminal penalty punishable with up to six years’ imprisonment. This bill was approved by the “Profile Committee” of the Verhovna Rada (Parliament of Ukraine) and received positive feedback from the scientific and management expertise of the Parliament. The text is therefore ready for voting in first reading, although it is not on the agenda of the current session of Parliament.

In addition, Draft Law 0945 “On amendments to legislative acts concerning the protection of children’s right to a safe information space” provides for similar prohibitions on any publication and dissemination of written or video products that “promote” homosexuality, on any written or video materials “propagating” homosexuality, and on the use of media to broadcast “homosexual propaganda”. The text provides for sentences of up to five years in prison. This bill now awaits to be examined in second reading, although it is not on the agenda of the current session of Parliament.

If passed, both texts would contribute to perpetuate negative ideas and negative perception of LGBTI people, and severely limit the rights to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly of LGBTI rights defenders.

Repression of and/or restrictions on peaceful demonstrations organised by LGBTI rights defenders

2012 Kiev Pride March cancelled due to repeated violence against the organisers

Throughout the month which preceded the planned date of the 2012 Pride March, a festival to raise awareness about LGBTI rights, three organisers were attacked, which resulted in the event being cancelled for security reasons.

One of them, Mr. Taras Karasiichuk, a member of Gay Alliance Ukraine and Head of the Kiev Pride 2012 organising committee, was attacked by an unknown individual at around midnight on June 22, 2012 as he was returning home. The man kicked him in the head and jaw, and ran away when a passer-by approached. Mr. Karasiichuk was diagnosed with a concussion and a broken jaw, as well as multiple scrapes and bruises on his knees and elbows. On the same say, members of the LGBTI rights organisation “Nash Mir” called the local police to urge them to open an investigation, highlighting the probability of a hate attack. This resulted in an officer taking a statement from Mr. Karasiichuk in the evening of that day. According to the information received, the case is still under investigation.

Previously, on May 20, 2012, unknown assailants had already attacked Mr. Karasiichuk as well as two other members of the Kiev Pride organising committee, Messrs. Svyatoslav Sheremet and Maksim Kasyanchuk, following a news conference held on May 21 in Kiev. The attackers approached the activists in a similar way, asking them if they were “fags,” before beating them. According to the information received, the case is still under investigation.

Attacks and administrative harassment against demonstrators denouncing anti-LGBTI bills on December 8, 2012

On December 8, 2012, a peaceful demonstration was organised in Kiev by the LGBT organisation “Insight”, gathering nearly a hundred LGBT rights defenders, to denounce proposed new laws against LGBTI activities.

On the eve of the event, the authorities had tried to ban the demonstration at the planned location. On the same day, the organisers had managed to submit an application to move the demonstration to another area. However, once the demonstration started, the police surrounded the protesters, claiming that the gathering was illegal.

The demonstrators were subsequently attacked by members of the radical right-wing group Svoboda. The police managed to arrest the attackers, but also arrested six LGBTI rights defenders who were trying to protect themselves from their assailants. The six cases were taken to courts, which resulted in positive decisions for two of them. The other four cases are still in the process of appeals.

In the aftermath of the demonstration, Ms. Olena Shevchenko, one of the organisers and a member of the LGBT organisation “Insight”, was handed written notification that the demonstration was illegal despite the fact that the authorities had been notified of the demonstration’s change of location and time, in accordance with Ukrainian law. Ms. Shevchenko was found guilty of organising an “illegal demonstration” and received administrative fines. She lost all stages in national courts and submitted a case to the European Court of Human Rights, which has not yet issued a decision.

Further violence against LGBTI rights defenders ahead of, during and after the Equality March on May 25, 2013

On May 25, 2013, the “Equality March” was organised in Kiev to call for the protection of LGBTI rights and LGBTI rights defenders.

In the weeks that preceded the march, counter-protests were organised in several cities of Ukraine, including Kiev, Luhansk, Mykolayiv, Symferopil and Zaporizzha.

On the day of the march, around 500 police officers surrounded nearly 50 marchers to protect them against counter-demonstrators shouting homophobic insults and trying to grab the posters of the demonstrators. 21 counter-demonstrators were arrested, among whom 12 were charged with “hooliganism”, while others received warnings.

After the march, Ms. Olena Shevchenko and her friend were attacked by two individuals, one of whom was recognised as a member of the radical right-wing group Svoboda. In addition, unidentified persons posted pictures of several organisers of the Equality March on social networks along with threatening messages. The case is still under investigation.

Kyrgyzstan

In Kyrgyzstan, the recent months were marked by a struggle between the authorities and rights defenders over the broadcast of a movie advocating and promoting LGBT rights. Accusations of “extremism”, “incitement of religious hatred” “dishonour of Muslims” were brought by the Prosecutor, and the supporters of the movie were subsequently slandered, threatened and judicially harassed.

Arbitrary ban on a film about homosexuality, and harassment against human rights defenders supporting the broadcast of the movie

On September 28, 2012, the Pervomaysky District Court of Bishkek banned the film “I am Gay and Muslim” on the whole Kyrgyz territory, thus preventing its broadcast in any circumstances.

This order followed a complaint lodged by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, which requested that the film be recognised as “extremist, inciting religious hatred and aimed at dishonouring Muslims”. As the decision of the court came into force immediately, the festival’s organisers could not contest the ruling before the scheduled screening time.

The Human Rights Centre “Citizens Against Corruption” (HRC CAC) subsequently filed an appeal to overturn the Pervomaysky Court’s decision, which the Bishkek City Court was scheduled to address to hear on December 5, 2012. The hearing was later delayed to December 26, 2012.

In addition, in that context Ms. Tolekan Ismailova, Director of the HRC CAC and Director of the human rights film festival Bir Duyno, was targeted by a smear campaign depicting her as spreading propaganda for homosexuality and destructing Kyrgyz values in relation with the film “I am Gay and Muslim”. Such accusations were spread on a TV programme broadcast on October 14, 2012, as well as in a Kyrgyz newspaper.

It is also to be mentioned that on September 27, 2012, the festival organisers, including Ms. Tolekan Ismailova and other members of the HRC CAC, had received phone calls and text messages threatening them with physical assault. The director of the cinema “Manas”, where the film was to be shown, also received threats that the building would be burnt down if the screening was not cancelled.

Finally, on October 8, 2012, the HRC CAC received a letter from their web hosting company warning the human rights NGO that its website might be shut down if it contained references or links to the said documentary.

On the day the film “I am Gay and Muslim” was banned upon a decision of the Pervomaysky District Court, around 11 am, four representatives of the State Committee of National Security (SCNS) presented themselves at the HRC CAC offices. One of them, Mr. N. Soodanbekov, served a warning to Ms. Tolekan Ismailova, alleging that the documentary “I am Gay and Muslim”, scheduled on the same day on the occasion of the human rights film festival Bir Duyno – Kyrgyzstan (One World – Kyrgyzstan), was considered as encouraging “inter-religious hatred”. The warning read as follows: “according to the decision by the State Commission of Religious Affairs, based on point 6.1 of Article 1 of the “Law on Combating Extremist Activity”, the film is considered “extremist” and its diffusion and broadcasting within the territory of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan might “encourage religious hatred and set the scene for mass disorder”.

As the SCNS official who served this warning did not have the authority to do so, and as the official procedure was not followed, Ms. Ismailova subsequently lodged a complaint. On October 31, 2012, the first hearing was held before the Bishkek Inter-district Court, allowing Ms. Ismailova and the HRC CAC’s lawyer to present all the details of the legal violations mentioned above. On November 27, 2012, the Court rejected Ms. Ismailova’s complaint. The HRC CAC appealed that decision.

On December 5, 2012, the appeal hearing, which was scheduled to be addressed, was delayed to December 26, 2012, and ultimately to July 22, 2013. However, on that day, the court was unable to review the case as Ms. Ismailova could not attend as she had not received any notification of the date and time. Furthermore, on August 27, 2013, Ms. Ismailova had a meeting in the framework of an experts group with President Atambayev. When Ms. Ismailova pointed the illegal character of the above-mentioned warning, the President replied to her that if she wanted to show this film, she “should organise this film festival in another country”.

***

RECOMMENDATIONS

In light of repeated attacks and hindrances against LGBTI rights defenders in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, the Observatory urges the authorities of those countries to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of LGBTI rights defenders and organisations in the region;

ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against LGBTI rights defenders and organisations in the region;

iii. Ensure in all circumstances that LGBTI rights defenders and organisations in the region are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into all acts of violence against LGBTI rights defenders in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penal sanctions provided by the law;

v. Repeal legislations that are adverse to the promotion or protection of LGBTI rights defenders and organisations, and refrain from adopting similar bills currently tabled in Parliament;

vi. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) on December 9, 1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

- its Article 5(b) and (c) which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others "to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups" and "to communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations";

- its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others […] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and [...] to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;

- its Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

- its Article 13, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to solicit, receive and utilize resources for the express purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms through peaceful means”.

vii. Comply with the Resolution of the UN Human Rights Council A/HRC/22/L.13 on protecting human rights defenders, adopted on March 15, 2013, which “urges States to create a safe and enabling environment in which human rights defenders can operate free from hindrance and insecurity, in the whole country and in all sectors of society, including by extending support to local human rights defenders”;

viii. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of LGBTI people and LGBTI rights defenders in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the countries of the region.

The Observatory also calls upon the United Nations (UN) - and in particular relevant UN Special Procedures -, as well as the European Union (EU) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR) to:

i. Condemn publicly the deterioration of the situation of LGBTI rights defenders and organisations in countries of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region;

ii. Call upon the authorities of such countries to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity as well as the enjoyment of the rights of all LGBTI defenders;

iii. Grant particular attention to the protection of LGBTI defenders in those countries, in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders and the 1990 Document of the Copenhagen Human Dimension Meeting of the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE).

***

Warsaw, October 2, 2013

To contact the Observatory:

· Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] “Violating the procedure established for conducting a meeting, rally, demonstration, procession or picket - shall entail the imposition of an administrative fine on the organisers thereof in the amount of from ten to twenty times the minimum wage, and on the participants thereof in the amount of from five to ten times the minimum wage”.

[2] See Rainbow Europe Map 2013, ILGA-Europe, available at: http://www.ilga-europe.org/home/publications/reports_and_other_materials/rainbow_europe

[3] See Soros Foundation-Moldova, Perceptions of the Population of the Republic of Moldova on Discrimination: Sociological Study, 2011, available at: http://soros.md/files/publications/documents/Studiu_sociologic_EN.pdf, p. 7.

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