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by Rex Wockner
International News Briefs
Russia’s Constitutional Court dismissed a complaint from gay activists March 31 which argued against the Ryazan region’s ban on “exposing minors to homosexual propaganda.”
Gay activists Nikolai Alekseev, Nikolai Baev and Irina Fet had claimed the ban violates a constitutional guarantee that only federal laws can limit constitutional rights, as well as guarantees of freedom of thought and speech, and freedom from discrimination.
The court, however, ruled that regional legislators are permitted to create administrative offenses that limit citizens’ rights. It also said Russia’s constitution specially protects “the family, motherhood and childhood.”
Further, the court wrote, “The ban of such propaganda – as a purposeful and uncontrolled activity connected to dissemination of information which can harm health, morals and spiritual development, including formation of distorted perceptions about the social equivalence of traditional and nontraditional marriage relations among persons who are deprived due to their age of the ability to critically evaluate such information – cannot be considered as breaching the constitutional rights of citizens.”
Alekseev said activists also appealed against the ban to the European Court of Human Rights last year.
“The Ryazan ban contradicts Article 10 of the European Convention, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression,” he said. “We are sure to win this case in Strasbourg.”
In March 2009, Baev and Fet deliberately violated the law by carrying pro-gay signs near a school and library in downtown Ryazan, which is 200 km (120 miles) southeast of Moscow.
They were fined 1,500 rubles ($51) each.