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Alekseyev v. Russia, Applications Nos. 4916/07; 25924/08; 14599/09

FIRST SECTION

CASE OF ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA

(Applications nos. 4916/07 , 25924/08 and 14599/09 )

JUDGMENT

STRASBOURG

21 October 2010

FINAL

11/0 4/2011

This judgment has become final under Article 44 § 2 (c) of the Convention.
It may be subject to editorial revision.

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 1

In the case of Alekseyev v. Russia ,
The European Court of Human Rights ( First Section ), sitting as a
Chamber composed of:
Christos Rozakis , President,
Nina Vajić ,
Anatoly Kovler ,
Elisabeth Steiner ,
Khanlar Hajiyev ,
Dean Spielmann ,
Sverre Erik Jebens , judges,
and André Wampach, Deputy Section Registrar ,
Having deliberated in private on 30 September 2010
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
PROCEDURE
1. The case originated in three applications (nos. 4916/07 , 25924/08 and
14599/09 ) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under
Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Russian nationa l,
Mr Nikolay Aleksandr ovich Alekseyev (“the applicant ”), on 29 January
2007 , 14 February 2008 and 10 March 20 09.
2. The applicant was represented by Mr D.G. Bartenev, a lawyer
practising in St Petersburg. The Russian Government (“the Government”)
were represented by Mr G. Matyushkin, Representative of the Russian
Federation at the European Court of Human Rights .
3. The applicant alleged a violation of his right to peaceful assembly on
account of the repeat ed ban on public events he had organised in 2006, 2007
and 2008 . He also complained that he had not ha d an effective remedy
against the all eged violation of his freedom of assembly and that the
Moscow authorities ‘ treat ment of his applications to hold the events had
been discriminatory.
4. On 17 September 2009 the Court decided to give notice of the
application s to th e Gove rnment. It was also decided to join the applications
and to rule on the admissibility and merits of the applications at the same
time.

2 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
THE FACTS
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
5. The applicant was born in 1977 and live s in Moscow . He is a gay
rights activist.
A. Pride March and picketing on 27 May 2006
6. In 2006 the applicant, together with other individuals, organised a
march to draw public attention to discrimination against the gay and lesbi an
minority in Russia, to promote respect for human rights and freedoms and to
call for tolerance on the part of the Russian authorities and the public at
large towards this minority. The march was entitled “Pride March” that
year, and “Gay Pride” in subse quent years, to replicate similar events held
by homosexual communities in big cities worldwide. The date chosen for
the march, 27 May 2006, was also meant to celebrate the anniversary of the
abolition of criminal liability in Russia for homosexual acts.
7. On 16 February 2006 the Interfax news agency published a statement
by Mr Tsoy, the press secretary of the mayor of Moscow, to the effect that
“the government of Moscow [ would ] not even consider allowing the gay
parade to be held” . Interfax further quoted Mr Tsoy as saying: “The mayor
of Moscow, Mr L uzhkov, has firmly declared: the government of the capital
city will not allow a gay parade to be held in any form, whether open ly or
disguised [as a human rights demonstration ], and an y attempt to hold any
unauthorised action will be severely repressed”.
8. On 22 February 2006 Interfax quoted the mayor of Moscow as having
said , on a different occasion, that if he received a request to hold a gay
parade in Moscow he would impose a ban on it because he did not want “to
stir up society , which is ill -disposed to such occurrences of life” and
continuing that he himself considered homosexuality “unnatural”, though he
“tried to treat everything that happ ens in human society with tolerance”.
9. On 17 March 2006 the first deputy to the mayor of Moscow wrote to
the mayor about the imminent campaign to hold a gay parade in Moscow in
May that year. She considered that allowing the even t would be contrary to
health and morals, as well as against the will of numerous petitioners who
had protested against the idea of promoting homosexuality. Having noted
that the Federal Law on Assemblies, Meetings, Demonstrations, Marches
and Picketing ( “the Assemblies Act ”) did not provide for the possibility of
ban ning the event, she stated that the authorities could suggest changing the
venue or time or that , if the event turned out to be a real public threat, it
could be interrupted. She requested the mayor ‘s agreement on developing an

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 3

effective action plan for the prevention of any actions – public or otherwise
– aimed at promoting or holding a gay parade or festival.
10 . On 24 March 2006 the mayor of Moscow instructed his firs t deputy,
five other officials of his office and all prefects of Moscow “to take
effective measures for the prevention and deterrence of any gay -oriented
public or mass actions in the capital city”. He called for action proposals
based on the legislative a nd regulatory framework and demanded an “active
mass -media campaign and social commercials with the use of petitions
brought by individuals and religious organisations”.
11 . On 15 May 2006 the organisers submitted a notice to the mayor of
Moscow stating the date, time and route of the intended march. It was to
take place between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on 27 May 2006, with an estimate d
number of about 2,000 participants , who would march from the Moscow
Post Office along Myasnitskaya Stree t to Lubyanskaya Square. The
organisers undertook to cooperate with the law -enforcement authorities in
ensuring safety and respect for public order by the participants and to
comply with regulations on restriction of noise level s when using
loudspeakers an d sound equipment.
12 . On 18 May 2006 the Department for Liaison with Security
Authorities of the Moscow Government informed the applicant of the
mayor ‘s decision to refuse permission to hold the march on grounds of
public order, for the prevention of riots and the protection of health , morals
and the rights and freedoms of others. It stated , in particular, that numerous
petitions had been brought against the march by representatives of
legislative and executive State bodies, religi ous denominations , Cossack
elders and other individuals; the march was therefore likely to cause a
negative reaction and protests against the participants, which could turn into
civil disorder and mass riots.
13 . Having received th e above reply, the organisers submitted a notice
with a view to holding another event on the same date and time as the march
for which permission had been refused . They informed the prefect of their
intention to hold a picket in the park at Lubyanskaya Squ are.
14 . On 19 May 2006 the applicant challenged before a court the mayor ‘s
decision of 18 May 2006 refusing permission to hold the march.
15 . On 23 May 2006 the deputy prefect of the Moscow Central
Administrative Circuit refused permission to hold the picket on the same
grounds as those given for the refusal to hold the march.
16 . On 26 May 2006 Interfax quoted the mayor of Moscow as saying in
an interview to the radio station Russian Radio that no gay parade would be
allowed in Moscow under any circumstances, “as long as he was the city
mayor”. He stated that all three “major” religious faiths – “the Church, the
Mosque and the Synagogue” – were ag ainst it and that it was absolutely
unacceptable in Moscow and in Russia, unlike “in some Western country
more progressive in that sphere”. He went on to say : “That ‘s the way morals

4 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
work. If somebody deviat es from the normal principles [in accordance with
which] sexual and gender life is organised , this should not be demonstrated
in public and anyone potentially unstable should not be invited .” He stated
that 99.9% of the population of Moscow supported the ban.
17 . On the same day t he Tverskoy District Court of Moscow dismissed
the applicant ‘s complaint. It referred to provisions of the Assemblies Act
concerning the authorities responsible for ensuring the safety of events
(sections 12 and 14), who were entitled t o suggest changing t he time or
venue , or both, of a proposed event on safety grounds ( section 12). It also
noted that a public event could be held at any suitable venue unless it
threaten ed to cause the collapse of buildings or constructions or entailed
safety risks for its p articipants ( section 8). It then noted the organisers ‘ right
to hold the event at the venue and time indicated in the notice to the
authorities , or at the venue and time agreed with the authorities if they had
suggested a change, and stated that it was prohibited to hold the event if the
notice had not been submitted on time or if the organisers had failed to
agree to a change of venue or time proposed by the authorities ( section 5).
Finally, the court noted that the organisers, officials or other individuals
were prohibited from interfer ing with the expression of opinion by the
participants in the public event unless they breached public order or
contravened the format of the event ( section 18). It concluded on the basis
of these provisions t hat the authorities could ban a public event on safety
grounds and that it was for the organisers to submit a notice suggesting a
change of venue and time for consider ation by the authorities. It considered
that the refusal to hold the event in the present case had legitimate grounds
and that the applicant ‘s right to hold assemblies and other public events had
not been breached.
18 . The applicant lodged an appeal, relying on section 12 of the
Assemblies Act, which imposed an obligat ion on the authorities, and not the
organisers, to make a reasoned proposal to chang e the venue or the time of
the event as indicated in the notice. He also challenged the finding that the
ban was justified on safety grounds , claiming that concerns for saf ety could
have been addressed by providing protection to those taking part in the
event.
19 . On 27 May 2006 the applicant and several other persons participated
in a conference celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia , at
which they announced their intention to gather in the Aleksandrovskiy
Garden to lay flowers at the war memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown
Soldier, allegedly to commemorate the victims of fascism, including gay
and lesbian victims, and to hold a fifteen -minute picket at the Moscow
mayor ‘s office to protest against the ban on the march and the picketing.
20 . Later that day the applicant and about fifteen other persons arrived at
the Aleksandrovskiy Garden to find the gates closed, with police patrolling
the access. According to the applicant, there were about 150 policemen

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 5

from the special riot squad (OMON), and also about a hundred individual s
protest ing against the flower -laying event planned by the appl icant and his
fellow participants.
21 . The applicant was arrested and taken to the police station to be
charged with the administrative offence of breaching the conditions for
holding a demonstration.
22 . In the meantime, other participants in the flower -laying event
proceeded towards the Moscow mayor ‘s office, with protest ers pursuing and
attacking them. Several persons reportedly sustained slight injuries.
According to the applicant, the OMON arrested abo ut one hundred persons
involved in attacking those taking part in the event.
23 . The applicant submitted two reports by NGOs on the events of
27 May 2006, one prepared by the International Lesbian and Gay
Association and another on e by Human Rights Watch. These reports
corroborated the applicant ‘s account of events.
24 . On 31 May 2006 Interfax quoted the mayor of Moscow as saying in
a television interview: “Those gay s trying to lay flowers at the Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier … it is a provocation. It was a desecration of a holy place”
and reiterat ing the condemnation of the action on behalf of the public at
large.
25 . On 16 June 2006 the applicant challenged before a court the prefect ‘s
decision of 23 May 2006 refusing to allow the picketing. On 22 August
2006 the Taganskiy Disctrict Court of Moscow dismissed the complaint,
finding that the ban had been justified on safety grounds. The applicant
appealed.
26 . On 19 September 2006 the Moscow City Court examined the appeal
against the judgment of 26 May 2006. It upheld the first -instance judgment
as lawful and justified in the circumstances.
27 . On 28 November 2006 the Moscow City C ourt examined the appeal
against the judgment of 22 August 2006 and dismissed it on essentially the
same grounds.
B. Pride March and picketing on 27 May 2007
28 . In 2007 the applicant, together with other individuals, decided to
organise a march similar to the one attempted in 2006.
29 . On 15 May 2007 the organisers submitted a notice to the mayor of
Moscow , stating the date, time and route of the intended march and its
purpose, all of which were identical to the march proposed the previous
year, except that the estimate d number of participants was 5,100.
30 . On 16 May 2007 the Department for Liaison with Security
Authorities of the Moscow Government informed the applicant that
permi ssion to hold the march had been refused on the grounds of potential
breaches of public order and violence against the participants, with

6 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
reference to the events of the previous year. The organisers were warned
that holding the event without permission wou ld render them liable .
31 . Having received the above reply, the organisers submitted a notice
with a view to holding other events on the same date and time as the march
for which permission had been refused . They informed the prefe ct of the
Moscow Central Administrative Circuit of their intention to hold a picket in
front of the Moscow mayor ‘s office at Tverskaya Square and another one in
Novopushkinskiy Park.
32 . On 23 May 2007 the organisers were informed that the prefect had
refused permission to hold the picket at both venues on the grounds of
public order, prevention of riots and protection of health , morals and the
rights and freedoms of others. They were warned that they would be held
liable for holdin g any unauthorised picketing.
33 . On 26 May 2007 the applicant and several other persons announced
at the annual “LGBT Rights are Human Rights” conference that they would
meet the following day in front of the Moscow mayor ‘s office to file a
petition together in protest against the ban on the march and the picketing.
34 . On 27 May 2007 the applicant and about twenty other individuals
were stopped by the police as they attempted to approach the mayor ‘s office .
The applicant and two other men were detained at the police station for
twenty -four hours on charges of having committed the administrative
offence of disobeying a lawful order from the police. On 9 June 2007 the
applicant was found guilty of the adminis trative offence and had to pay a
fine of 1,000 roubles. Th at decision was upheld by the Tverskoy District
Court on 21 August 2007.
35 . On 30 May 2007 the applicant challenged before a court the decision
of 16 May 2007 by the mayor of Moscow refusing permission to hold the
march. In particular, he alleged that under the Assemblies Act, the
authorities were not entitled to ban public events, but could only propose
changing their time and loca tion, which in the present ca se they had not. He
also argued that official disapproval of the purpose of a public event was not
by itself a sufficient ground , in a democratic society, for a ban.
36 . On 26 June 2007 the applicant challenged before a court the p refect ‘s
decision of 23 May 2007 refusing permission for the picketing.
37 . On 24 August 2007 the Taganskiy District Court of Moscow
dismissed the complaint concerning the ban on the picketing, finding that
the ban had been justifi ed on safety grounds. Th at judgment was upheld on
8 November 2007 by the Moscow City Court.
38 . On 4 September 2007 the Tverskoy District Court dismissed the
applicant ‘s claim, uph olding the grounds for the ban on the march and
con firm ing the lawfulness of the authorities ‘ acts. Th at judgment was upheld
on 6 December 2007 by the Moscow City Court.

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 7

C. Pride Marches in May 2008 and picketing in May and June 2008
39 . In 2008 the applicant, together with other individuals, decided to
organise several marches similar to the one s attempted the two previous
years.
40 . On 18 April 2008 the organisers submitted a notice to the mayor of
Moscow stating the date, time and route of ten intended marches to be held
on 1 and 2 May 2008 in central Moscow.
41 . On 24 April 2008 the Department for Liaison with Security
Authorities of the Moscow Government informed the applicant t hat
permission to hold all the marches had been refused on the grounds of
potential breaches of public order and violence against the participants.
42 . Having received the above reply, on 22 April 2008 the organisers
submitted a no tice with a view to holding a further fifteen marches from 3 to
5 May 2008.
43 . On 28 April 2008 the Department for Liaison with Security
Authorities of the Moscow Government informed the applicant that
permission to hold the fifteen marches had also been refused on the same
grounds.
44 . The applicant submitted a number of alternative proposals for
holding marches on different dates in May 2008 and in various locations.
These proposals were refused, on the s ame grounds, as follows:
(i) applications of 25 and 28 April 2008 (30 marches in total) , refused on
5 May 2008;
(ii ) application of 30 April 2008 (20 marches) , refused on 7 May 2008;
(iii ) application of 5 May 2008 (20 marches) , refused on 8 May 2008;
(iv ) application of 8 May 2008 (15 marches) , refused on 13 May 2008;
(v) application of 12 May 2008 (15 marches) , refused on 16 May 2008;
(vi ) application of 15 May 2008 (15 marches) , refused on 21 May 2008;
(vii ) application of 19 May 2008 (15 marches ), refused on 23 May 2008.
45 . On 16 May 2008 the applicant gave notice to the President of Russia
of his intention to hold a march in the Aleksandrovskiy Garden on 31 May
2008. He received no reply to th e notice.
46 . From 28 April 2008 to 17 June 2008 the applicant brought several
court actions challenging the decisions by the mayor of Moscow refusing
permission to hold the marches. The Tverskoy District Court joined these
applications and on 17 September 2008 it dismissed the applicant ‘s claim,
uph olding the gro unds for the bans on the marches and confirm ing the
lawfulness of the authorities ‘ acts. Th at judgment was upheld on
2 December 2008 by the Moscow City Court.
47 . In the meantime, the applicant also attempted to organise picketing
to call for criminal charges to be brought against the mayor of Moscow for
hindering the holding of public events. The picket intended to be held on
17 May 2008 was prohibited on 13 May 2008 on the same grounds as those

8 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
given for the previous events. This decision was reviewed and upheld by the
Taganskiy District Court on 22 July 2008 and, on appeal, by the Moscow
City Court on 14 October 2008.
48 . On 1 June 2 008 the applicant, in a group of twenty individuals, held
a picket on Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street for about ten minutes.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
49 . Article 30 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation provides that
everyone has the right to freedom of association. Article 55 § 3 provides
that rights and freedoms may be restricted by federal laws for the protection
of constitutional principles, public morals , health and the rights and lawful
interests of others, and to ensur e the defence and security of the State.
50 . The Federal Law on Assemblies, Meetings, Demonstrations,
Marches and Picketing (no. 54 -FZ of 18 August 2004 – “the Assemblies
Act”) provides in so far as relevant as follows:
Section 5: Organisation of a public event
“…
3. The organiser of a public event shall have the right:
(i) to hold meetings, demonstrations, marches and picket s at the venues and time
specified in the notice on holding the public event or as alte red by agreement with the
executive authority of the subject of the Russian Federation or the municipal body; to
hold assemblies at a venue that has been specially allocated or adapted to ensur e the
safety of citizens while such assemblies are held ;

(v) in holding assemblies, meetings , demonstrations and marches , to use sound –
amplifying technical devices (audio, video and other equipment) with a level of sound
corresponding to the standards and n orms established in the Russian Federation.
4. The organiser of the public event must:
(i) submit to the executive authority of the subject of the Russian Federation or the
municipal body a notice on holding the public event in accordance with the proced ure
prescribed by section 7 of this Federal Law;
(ii) no later than three days prior to the holding of the public event (except in the
case of an assembly or picket held by a single participant) , notify in writing the
executive authority of the subject of the Russian Federation or the municipal body of
the accept ance (or no n-accept ance ) of its proposal to alter the venue and/or time of the
public event as specified in the notice of the event;
(iii) ensure compliance with the conditions for holding the public event as specified
in the notice of the event or with any conditions that have been altered as a result of an

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 9

agreement reached with the executive authority of the subject of the Russian
Federation or the municipal body;
(iv) require the participants in the public event to observe public order and comply
with the conditions for holding the public event. Person s who fail to comply with the
lawful requirements of the organiser of the public event may be expelled from the
venue of the public event;
(v) ensure, within their competence, public order and the safety of citizens when
holding the pub lic event and, in instances specified by this Federal Law, perform this
obligation jointly with the authorised representative of the executive authority of the
subject of the Russian Federation or the municipal body and the authorised
representative of the Ministry of the Interior and comply with all their lawful
requirements;

5. The organiser of the public event shall have no right to hold it if the notice on
holding the public event has not been submitted in due time or no agreemen t has been
reached with the executive authority of the subject of the Russian Federation or the
municipal body on their reasoned proposal as to the alteration of the venue and/or
time of the public event.”
Section 8: Venue for holding a public event
“A p ublic event may be held at any venue suitable for holding the event if its
conduct does not create a threat of the collapse of buildings or structures or other
threats to the safety of the participants in the public event. Conditions governing bans
or rest rictions on holding a public event at particular venues may be specified by federal
laws.
…”
Section 12 : Obligations of the executive authority of the subject of the Russian
Federation and the municipal body
“1. The executive authority of the subject of the Russian Federation or the
municipal body, upon receiving notice of the public event, must:

(ii) inform the organiser of the public event, within three days of receipt of the
notice on holding the event ( or, if a notice on holding a picket by a group of
individuals is submitted within less than five days before it s intended date , on the day
of its receipt) , of a reasoned proposal to alter the venue and/or time of the public
event , as well as of any proposa l for the organiser of the event to bring the aims, form
or other conditions for holding the event as indicated in the notice in to line with the
requirements of this Federal Law;
(iii) designate, depending on the form of the public event and the number of
participants, an authorised representative to assist the event organisers in conducting
the event in accordance with this Federal Law. The authorised representative shall be

10 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
formally appointed by a written order which must be forwarded to the organiser of the
public event in advance [of the event];

(v) ensure, within its competence and jointly with the organiser of the public event
and the authorised representative of the Ministry of the Interior, public order and
safety of citizens while holding the event and, if necessary , provide them with urgent
medical aid;
…”
Section 14: Rights and obligations of the authorised representative of the Ministry of
the Interior
“…
3. The authorised representative of the Ministry of the Interior must:
(i) facil itate the conduct of the public event;
(ii) ensure, jointly with the organiser of the public event and the executive authority
of the subject of the Russian Federation or the municipal body, public order and safety
of citizens and compliance with the law while holding the public event.”
Section 18: Securing the conditions for holding a public event
“1. The organiser of the public event, officials or other individuals may not prevent
the participants in the event from expressing their opinion in a manner that does not
breach public order or the conditions for holding the public event.
…”
III. RELEVANT COUNCIL OF EUROPE DOCUMENTS
51 . The following are extracts from Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5
of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member States
on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or
gender identity :
“…
III. Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly
13. Member states should take appropriate measures to ensure, in accor dance with
Article 10 of the Convention, that the right to freedom of expression can be
effectively enjoyed, without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender
identity, including with respect to the freedom to receive and impart information on
subjects dealing with sexual orientation or gender identity.

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 11

14. Member states should take appropriate measures at national, regional and local
levels to ensure that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as enshrined in
Article 11 of the Conventi on, can be effectively enjoyed, without discrimination on
grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
15. Member states should ensure that law enforcement authorities take appropriate
measures to protect participants in peaceful demonstrations in fa vour of the human
rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons from any attempts to
unlawfully disrupt or inhibit the effective enjoyment of their right to freedom of
expression and peaceful assembly.
16. Member states should take appropriate measures to prevent restrictions on the
effective enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly
resulting from the abuse of legal or administrative provisions, for example on grounds
of public health, public morality and public ord er …”
52 . On 6 June 2006 the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human
Rights issued the following press release :
“In a statement given in St Petersburg yesterday, Commissioner Hammarberg
stressed that the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly belong to all
people and that the authorities have a duty to protect peaceful demonstrators. The
Commissioner regrets that his statement has been misrepresented by the news agency
RIA Novosti (Report by RIA Novosti dated 5 June 2006 at 13:33).”
THE LAW
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 11 OF THE CONVENTION
53 . The applicant complain ed of a violation of his right to peaceful
assembly. He claimed that the ban repeatedly imposed by the Moscow
authorities on holding the Pride March and the picketing had not been in
accordance with the law, had not pursue d any legitimate aim and had not
been necessary in a democratic society. He relied on Article 11 of the
Convention , which reads as follows:
“1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of
association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the
protection of his interests.
2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as
are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of
national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the
protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of
others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the
exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the
administration of the State.”

12 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
54 . The Government c ontested that argument. The y submitted that the
authorities had acted lawfully and within their margin of appreciation when
deciding to prohibit the events at issue.
A. Admissibility
55 . The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill -founded
within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. It further notes that
it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared
admissible.
B. Merits
1. The parties ‘ submissions
(a) The Government
56 . The Government contended that the ban on the events organised by
the applicant had been imposed in accordance with the law, had pursued a
legitimate aim and had been necessary in a democratic society.
57 . They first pointed out that Article 55 § 3 of the Constitution and
section 8(1) of the Assemblies Act should be construed as providing for
restriction s on public events on safety grounds and for the protection of
public order. In the present case, the events wh ich the applicant had sought
to hold had carried an obvious risk of confrontation between the participants
and their opponents. They claimed to have received numerous public
petitions from various political, religious, governmental and non –
governmental org anisations calling for the ban , some of which included
threats of violence should the events go ahead. They were therefore
concerned about the safety of the participants and the difficulties in
maintaining public order during the event s.
58 . The Government further claimed that Article 11 § 2 should be
interpreted as providing for a wide margin of appreciation within which the
authorities should be able to choose measures appropriate for maintaining
public order. They referred to the cases of Barankevich v. Russia
(no.10519/03, 26 July 2007 ) and Plattform “Ärzte für das Leben” v. Austria
(21 June 1988, Series A no. 139 ) for principles governing the authorities ‘
conduct at public events marked by a high probability of violence. In t he
present case, the Government asserted that they could not have avoid ed
banning the event, because no other measure could have adequately
address ed the security risks. They further claimed that if the Court were to
give an assessment different fr om that of the domestic authorities it would
put itself in the position of a “court of fourth instance”.

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 13

59 . In addition to that, the Government submitted that the event in
question had had to be banned for the protection of morals. They
emphasised that any promotion of homosexuality was incompatible with the
“religious doctrines for the majority of the population” , as had been made
clear in the statements by the religious organisations calli ng for the ban.
They contended that allowing the gay parades would be perceived by
believers as an intentional insult to their religious feeling s and a “terrible
debasement of their human dignity”.
60 . The Government relied on the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights , which guarantee d individuals respect for and protection of
their religious and moral beliefs and the right to bring up their childr en in
accordance with them . They claimed that authorising gay parades would
breach the rights of those people whose religious and moral beliefs included
a negative attitude to wards homosexuality. They further noted that in the
case of Otto -Preminger -Instit ut v. Austria (20 September 1994, §§ 52
and 56, Series A no. 295 -A) the Court had recognised the great role of
religion in people ‘s everyday life , which should be taken into account in
order to prevent religious beliefs from bec oming the su bject of unreaso nable
and insulting accusations. They concluded on th at basis that the State must
take into account the requirements of the major religious associations and
that “the democratic State must protect society from destructive influence
on its moral fundamentals, and protect the human dignity of all citizens,
including believers ”. In the present case, the ideas of the event organisers
were not neutral to the rest of society, but had actually encroached on the
rights, lawful interests and human dignity of believers.
61 . The Government also alleged that there was no consensus between
the Council of Europe member States as to the extent to which
homosexuality was accepted in each country. According to them, “[s]uch
relations are allowed in some countries, in other countries they are
considerably restricted”. For this reason they claimed that the domestic
auth orities we re better informed as to what might insult believers in the
respective communities. To illustrate this point t hey referred to the case of
Dudgeon v. the United Kingdom (22 October 1981, §§ 56 -58 , Series A
no. 45) , in which the Court had discussed the diversity of moral and cultural
values in the context of criminal liability for homosexual conduct , which
had existed at the material time in Northern Ireland, while stressing that
they did not adher e to the conclusion arrived at by the Court in that case.
They also cited at length the case of Müller and Others v. Switzerland
(24 May 1988, Series A no. 133) , where the Court had upheld measures by
the authorities restricting general access to an exhibition of paintings
depicting “ crude sexual relations, particularly between people and animals”.
They suggest ed that gay parades should be viewed from the same
sta ndpoint, taking into account the interests of involuntary spectators,

14 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
especially children. In their opinion, any form of celebration of homosexual
behaviour should take place in private or in designated meeting places with
restricted access. They added tha t such clubs, bars and entertainment
facilities existed aplenty in Moscow (listing twenty -four examples of such
places) and were well frequented, their operation not being hindered by the
authorities.
62 . In the Government ‘s view, in Moscow the public was not yet ready
to accept the holding of gay parades in the city , unlike in Western countries ,
where such celebrations were regular occurrences. It was thus the
authorities ‘ duty to demonstrate sensitivity to the existing public resentment
of any overt manifestation of homosexuality. To that end they quoted a
Russian celebrity performer, whose stage image capitalise d on exaggeration
of homosexual stereotypes, as saying that gay parades should not be
conducted. They also referred t o a statement apparently made by an
organisation called “The Union of Orthodox Citizens” , which promised to
conduct a mass protest “should the homosexuals try to hold the march in
Moscow”. Likewise, the Orthodox Church was quoted as objecting to the
gay pa rade as propaganda promoting sin, as had the Supreme Mufti for
Russia , who had threatened mass protests by Muslims of Russia “as well as
by all normal people” should the parade go ahead. They also quoted,
although referring to his statement as extreme, the head Muslim authority of
Nizhniy Novgorod , who had said that “as a matter of necessity,
homosexuals must be stoned to death ”.
63 . Finally, the Government claimed that the prohibition of the gay
parades in Moscow had been supported by the Council of Europe
Commissioner for Human Rights. They relied on the statement reported in
the news , although they did not mention that this statement had been denied
by the Commissioner (see paragraph 52 above).
(b) The applic ant
64 . The applicant contested the Government ‘s submissions on every
point. First, he disagreed that the ban on the public events he had sought to
hold had been imposed in accordance with the law . He pointed out that
neither the Assemblies Act nor any other legislative instrument provided for
a ban on public events. The restrictions set out in section 8(1) of the Act on
holding events in venues which we re unsuitable for safety reasons require d
the authorities to suggest another ve nue , as set out in section 12 of the Act ,
and not to ban the event . In any case , even if the Court were to accept that
the alleged impossibility of avoid ing public disorder at any venue could
provide a justification for the ban under domestic law, the appl icant
maintained that the ban did not comply with two other requirements of
Article 8 § 2 of the Convention , in that it had failed to pursue a legitimate
aim and had not been necessary in a democratic society.

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 15

65 . As regards the th ree legitimate aims referred to by the Government,
namely the protection of public safety and the prevention of disorder , the
protection of morals and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others,
the applicant considered all of them inapplicable. He argued that the
reference to the protection of morals was not justified because the
Government ‘s definition of “morals” included only attitudes that were
dominant in public opinion and did not encompass the notions of diversity
and pluralism. Moreover, the events at issue could not by their nature affect
morals because they had been intended as a demonstration in favour of
human rights and civil liberties for the protection and equality of sexual
minorities. No intention to demonstrate nudity or sexually explicit or
provocative behaviour or material had ever been expressed by the organisers
in their applications or public statements. The Government ha d not shown
that any harm would have been caused to society or third persons by the
proposed events. On th e contrary, the applicant argued , the events would
have been of benefit to Russian society by advocating the ideas of tolerance
and respect for the rights of the lesbian and gay population.
66 . He further contested the aim s of protection of public safety and
prevention of disorder because the planned marches and picketing had been
intended to be strictly peaceful and orderly events by themselves. As
regards the potential riots to be caused by the counter -demonstrators, the
Government ha d not at any stage assessed the scale of possible clashes with
the events ‘ opponents and therefore their argument of inability to provide
sufficient protection to the gay parade s was unsubstantiated. In the three
reference years the applicant ha d submitted numerous applications
suggesting different formats and venues for the events , and the authorities
ha d never given reasons as to why it was not possible to make security
arrangem ents for any of them.
67 . Finally , the applicant contended that the ban imposed on the events
throughout the reference period had not been necessary in a democratic
society. He referred to the Court ‘s established case -law , stating that the mere
possibility of confusing and even shocking part of society could not be
regarded as a sufficient ground for such a sweeping measure as a total ban
on the event s in question (he referred to Bączkowski and Others v. Poland ,
no. 1543/06, § 64, E CHR 2007 -VI) . He submitted that the measure
repeatedly taken in the present case was gravely disproportionate to the
aims allegedly pursued by the authorities and was incompatible with the
notion of a democratic society which was “pluralistic, tolerant and
broadminded” (ibid. , § 63). He argued that the authorities had failed even to
attempt to comply with their obligation under Article 11 to take reasonable
and appropriate measures to enable lawful demonstrations to proceed
peacefully. They had banned the event s, which in their view were likely to
be attacked , instead of protecting them . Moreover, they had endorsed the
disapproval expressed by the events ‘ opponents , claiming that they were

16 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
immoral and thus depriving the minority of a lawful right to hold a peaceful
demonstration , a right that was inherent in a society striv ing to be
democratic .
2. The Court ‘s assessment
68 . The Court observes that the Moscow authorities imposed a ban on
the Pride March and picketing in 2006, 2007 an d 2008 and enforced the ban
by dispersing event s held without authorisation and by finding the applicant
and other participants who had breach ed the ban guilty of an administrative
offence . There is accordingly no doubt that there has been an interference
with the exercise of the applicant ‘s freedom of peaceful assembly
guaranteed by Article 11 § 1 of the Convention. In fact, the existence of the
interference in the present case is not in dispute between the parties.
69 . The Court f urther notes that the parties disagreed as to whether the
Moscow authorities ‘ acts were prescribed by law. The y also disagreed as to
whether the interference served a legitimate aim. However, the Court may
dispense with ruling on these point s because, irre spective of the aim and the
domestic lawfulness of the ban, it fell short of being necessary in a
democratic society, for the reasons set out below . To the extent that these
issues are relevant to the assessment of the proportionality of the
interference t hey will be addressed in paragraphs 78 -79 below (see
Christian Democratic People ‘s Party v. Moldova , no. 28793/02, § 53,
ECHR 2006 -II) .
70 . In so far as the proportionality of the interference is concerned, the
Court observes that the relevant principles were set out in its judgment in
Bączkowski and Others (cited above ):
“61. As has been stated many times in the Court ‘s judgments, not only is democracy
a fundamental feature of the European public order but the Convention was design ed
to promote and maintain the ideals and values of a democratic society. Democracy,
the Court has stressed, is the only political model contemplated in the Convention and
the only one compatible with it. By virtue of the wording of the second paragraph of
Article 11, and likewise of Articles 8, 9 and 10 of the Convention, the only necessity
capable of justifying an interference with any of the rights enshrined in those Articles
is one that may claim to spring from a ‘democratic society ‘ (see Refah Partisi (the
Welfare Party) and Others v. Turkey [GC], nos. 41340/98, 41342/98, 41343/98
and 41344/98, §§ 86-89, ECHR 2003 -II, and Christian Democratic People ‘s Party ,
[cited above] ).
62. While in the context of Article 11 the Court has often referred to the ess ential
role played by political parties in ensuring pluralism and democracy, associations
formed for other purposes are also important to the proper functioning of democracy.
For pluralism is also built on genuine recognition of, and respect for, diversity and the
dynamics of cultural traditions, ethnic and cultural identities, religious beliefs and
artistic, literary and socio -economic ideas and concepts. The harmonious interaction
of persons and groups with varied identities is essential for achieving soc ial cohesion.
It is only natural that, where a civil society functions in a healthy manner, the
participation of citizens in the democratic process is to a large extent achieved through

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 17

belonging to associations in which they may integrate with each other and pursue
common objectives collectively (see Gorzelik and Others v. Poland [GC],
no. 44158/98, § 92, ECHR 2004 -I).
63. Referring to the hallmarks of a ‘democratic society ‘, the Court has attached
particular importance to pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness. In that context, it
has held that although individual interests must on occasion be subordinated to those
of a group, democracy does not simply mean that the views of the majority must
always prevail: a balance must be achieved which ensures the fair and proper
treatment of minorities and avoids any abuse of a dominant position (see Young,
James and Webster v. the United Kingdom , 13 August 1981, Series A no. 44, § 63,
and Chassagnou and Others v. France [GC], nos. 25088/95 and 28443/95 , § 112 ,
ECHR 1999 -III).
64. In Informationsverein Lentia and Others v. Austria (24 November 1993 , § 38,
Series A no. 276) the Court described the State as the ultimate guarantor of the
principle of pluralism. Genuine and effective respect for freedom of association and
assembly cannot be reduced to a mere duty on the part of the State not to interfere; a
purely negative conception would not be compatible with the purpose of Article 11
nor with that of the Convention in general. There may thus be positive obligations to
secure the effective enjoyment of these freedoms (see Wilson and the National Union
of Journalists and Others v. the United Kingdom , nos. 306 68/96, 30671/96
and 30678/96, § 41, ECHR 2002 -V, and Ouranio Toxo v Greece , no. 74989/01, § 37,
ECHR 2005 -X). This obligation is of particular importance for persons holding
unpopular views or belonging to minorities, because they are more vulnerable to
victimisation.”
71 . Turning to the circumstances of the present case, the Court observes
that the Government put forward two reasons for imposing the ba n on the
events organised by the applicant.
72 . Their first argument, which also formed the ground o n which the
events were banned by the domestic authorities , related to concerns for the
participants ‘ safety and to the prevention of disorder. They alleged that the
Moscow authorities, having received numerous protest petitions, had
rea lised that any such event would cause a large -scale controversy with
various groups who objected to any demonstrations supporting or promoting
the interests of lesbians, gay s or other sexual minorities. The petitions cited
by the Government (paragraph 62 above), however, were not all of identical
gist. Some petitioners , such as the Orthodox Church, simply expressed their
objection to the event s and to the general idea of people being homosexual
and identifying themselves as such. Others, such as the Supreme Mufti ,
informed the authorities of their intention to hold a protest against the
event s, whereas the senior Muslim authority in Nizhniy Novgorod
threatened violence.
73 . The Court has previously stressed in this connection that freedom of
assembly as enshrined in Article 11 of the Convention protects a
demonstration that may annoy or cause offence to persons opposed to the
ideas or claims that it is seeking to promote ( see Stankov and the United
Macedonian Organisation Ilinden v. Bulgaria , nos. 29221/95 and 29225/95,

18 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
§ 86 , ECHR 2001 -IX). The participants must be able to hold the
demonstration without having to fear that they will be subjected to physical
violence by thei r opponents. It is thus the duty of Contracting States to take
reasonable and appropriate measures to enable lawful demonstrations to
proceed peacefully (see Plattform “Ärzte für das Leben” , cited above, §§ 32
and 34).
74 . The Cour t cannot accept the Government ‘s argument that these
petitions should be viewed as a general indication that the Pride March and
the picketing had the potential to caus e public disorder. The first group of
petitions , calling for the event s to be prohibited because the petitioners
consider ed them immoral, without a threat of immediate counteraction at
the site of the event s, were irrelevant to safety considerations. They could
only be taken into account for the purpose of restrictions to be imposed for
the protection of morals, an issue that will be specifically addressed below.
75 . The next group of petitions , indicating the authors ‘ intention to
engage in protest actions at the site of the event s because they found them
objectionable , should, on the contrary, have been carefully assessed from
the standpoint of security arrangements. As a general rule, w here a serious
threat of a violent counter -demonstration exists, the Court has allowed the
domestic authorities a wi de discretion in the choice of means to enable
assembl ies to take place without disturbance (see Plattform “Ärzte für das
Leben” , loc. cit. ). However, the mere existence of a risk is insufficient for
banning the event: in making their assessment the authorities must produce
concrete estimates of the potential scale of disturbance in order to evaluat e
the resources necessary for neutralising the threat of violent clashes (see
Barankevich , cited above , § 33) . In the presen t case, no preliminary
assessment of the risks pos ed by counter -demonstrations had been carried
out. The subsequent events revealed that there was a potential total of about
a hundred counter -protesters, a figure that is significant but by no means
overwhe lming on the scale of a city such as Moscow. The Court observes,
moreover, that only a few of the petitions cited by the Government
expressed determination on the part of the counter -protesters to proceed by
unlawful means. The Government did not make any submissions as to
whether any of the petitioners had attempted to give notice of their counter –
demonstration . Had they done so, the authorities cou ld have made
arrangements to ensure that both events proceed ed peacefully and lawfully ,
allowing both sides to achieve the goal of expressing their views without
clashing with each other . It was for the Moscow authorities to address
potential counter -protesters – whether by making a public statement or by
replying to their petitions individually – in order to r emind them to remain
within the boundaries of the law when carry ing out any protest actions.
76 . As regards any statements calling for violence and inciting offences
against the participants in a public event, such as those by a Mu slim cleric
from Nizhniy Novgorod , who reportedly said that homosexuals must be

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 19

stoned to death (see paragraph 62 above) , as well as any isolated incidents
of threats of violence being put into practice, they could have adequately
be en dealt with through the prosecution of those responsible. However, i t
does not appear that the authorities in the present case reacted to the cleric ‘s
call for violence in any other way than banning the event he condemned. By
relying on such blatantly unla wful calls as grounds for the ban, the
authorities effectively endorsed the intentions of persons and organisations
that clearly and deliberately intended to disrupt a peaceful demonstration in
breach of the law and public order .
77 . In the light of the above findings, the Court concludes that the
Government failed to carry out an adequate assessment of the risk to the
safety of the participants in the events and to public order . It reiterates that if
every probability of tension an d heated exchange between opposing groups
during a demonstration were to warrant its prohibition, society would be
faced with being deprived of the opportunity of hearing differing views on
any question which offends the sensitivity of the majority opinion (see
Stankov and the United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden , cited above,
§ 107). In the present case, the Court cannot accept the Government ‘s
assertion that the threat was so great as to require such a drastic measure as
banning the event altogether, let alone doing so repeatedly over a period of
three years . Furthermore, it appears from the public statements made by the
mayor of Moscow, as well as from the Government ‘s observations , that if
security risks played any role in the authorities ‘ decision t o impose the ban ,
they were in any event secondary to considerations of public morals .
78 . The Court observes that the mayor of Moscow on many occasions
expressed his determination to prevent gay parade s and similar events from
tak ing place , apparently because he considered them inappropriate (see
paragraphs 7, 8, 10 , 16 and 24 above ). The Government in their
observations also pointed out that such events should be banned as a matter
of principle, because propaganda promoting homosexuality was
incompatible with religious doctrines and the moral values of the majority,
and could be harmful if seen by children or vulnerable adults.
79 . The Court observes, however, that these reasons do not constitute
grounds under domestic law for banning or otherwise restricting a public
event. Accordingly, no such arguments were put forward in the domestic
proceedings, which remained focused o n security issues. The Court is not
convinced that the Government may at this stage substitute one Convention –
protected legitimate aim for another one which never formed part of the
domestic balancing exercise . Moreover, it considers that in any event the
ban was disproportionate to either of the two alleged aims .
80 . The Court reiterates that the guarantees of Article 11 of the
Convention apply to all assemblies except those where the organisers and
participants have violent intentions or otherwise deny the foundations of a
“democratic society” (see G. v. Germany , no. 13079/87, Commission

20 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
decision of 6 March 1989, Decisions and Reports (DR) 60, p. 256, and
Christians against Racism and Fascism v. the United Kingdom ,
Commission decision of 16 July 1980, DR 21, p. 138 ). As the Court stated
in Sergey Kuznetsov v. Russia (no. 10877/04, § 45, 23 October 2008 ): “any
measures interfering with the f reedom of assembly and expression other
than in cases of incitement to violence or rejection of democratic principles
– however shocking and unacceptable certain views or words used may
appear to the authorities – do a disservice to democracy and often eve n
endanger it.”
81 . The Court further reiterates that it would be incompatible with the
underlying values of the Convention if the exercise of Convention rights by
a minority group were made conditional on its being accepted by the
majority. Were this so , a minority group ‘s rights to freedom of religion,
expression and assembly would become merely theoretical rather than
practical and effective as required by the Convention (see Artico v. Italy ,
13 May 1980 , § 33 , Series A no. 37, a nd Barankevich , cited above, § 31).
82 . In the present case, having carefully studied all the material before it,
the Court does not find that the events organised by the applicant would
have caused the level of controversy claimed by the Government. The
purpose of the march es and picketing, as declared in the notice s of the
events , was to promote respect for human rights and freedoms and to call
for tolerance towards sexual minorities. The events we re to take the form of
a march and picketing, with participants holding banners and making
announcements through loudspeakers. At no stage was it suggested that the
event would involve any graphic demonstration of obscenity of a type
comparable to the exhi bition in the case of Müller and Others (cited above)
referred to by the Government. The applicant submitted, and it was not
contested by the Government, that the participants had not intended to
exhibit nudity, engage in sexually provocative behaviour or criticise public
morals or religious views. Moreover, it transpires from the mayor ‘s
comments ( see, in particular, paragraphs 16 and 24 above) and the
Government ‘s observations (see paragraph 61 above) that it was not the
behaviour or the attire of the participants that the authorities found
objectionable but the very fact that they wished to ope nly identify
themselves as gay men or lesbian s, individual ly and as a group. The
Government admitted, in part icular, that the authorities would reach their
limit of tolerance towards homosexual behaviour when it spil t over from the
strictly private domain into the sphere shared by the general public (ibid. , in
fine ).
83 . To justify this a pproach the Government claimed a wide margin of
appreciation in granting civil rights to people who identify themselves as
gay men or lesbian s, citing the alleged lack of European consensus on issues
relating to the treatment of sexual minorities . The Cour t cannot agree with
that interpretation. There is ample case -law reflecting a long -standing

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 21

European consensus on such matters as abolition of criminal liability for
homosexual relations between adults (see Dudgeon , cited above ; Norris
v. Ireland , 26 October 1988, Series A no. 142; and Modinos v. Cyprus ,
22 April 1993, Series A no. 259) , homosexuals ‘ access to service in the
armed forces (see Smith and Grady v. the United Kingdom , n os. 33985/96
and 33986/96, ECHR 1999 -VI) , the granting of parental rights ( see
Salgueiro da Silva Mouta v. Portugal , no. 33290/96, ECHR 1999 -IX),
equality in tax matters and the right to succeed to the deceased partner ‘s
tenancy ( see Karner v. Austria , no. 40016/98, ECHR 2003 -IX ); more recent
examples include equal ages of consent under criminal law for heterosexual
and homosexual acts (see L. and V. v. Austria , nos. 39392/98 and 39829/98,
ECHR 2003 -I). At the same time, there remain issues where no European
consensus has been re ached , such as granting permission to same -sex
couples to adopt a child ( see Fretté v. France , no. 36515/97, ECHR 2002 -I,
and E.B. v. France [GC], no. 43546/02, ECHR 2008 -…) and the right to
marry , and the Court has confirmed the domest ic authorities ‘ wi de margin of
appreciation in respect of those issues . This, however, does not dispense the
Court from the requirement to verify whether in each individual case the
authorities did not overstep their margin of appreciation by acting arbitrarily
or otherwise . Indeed, the Court has consistently held that the State ‘s margin
of appreciation goes hand in hand with European supervision (see
Handyside v. the United Kingdom , 7 December 1976, § 49 , Series A
no. 24 ). The Government ‘s reference to the concept of a “cou rt o f fourth
instance” (see § 58 above) cannot prevent the Court from exercising its
duties in that regard in accordance with the Convention and established
case -law.
84 . In any event, the absence of a Europ ean consensus on these
questions is of no relevance to the present case because conf erring
substantive rights on homosexual persons is fundamentally different from
recognising their right to campaign for such rights . There is no ambigui ty
about the other member State s’ recognition of the right of individuals to
openly identify themselves as gay, lesbian or any other sexual minority, and
to promote their rights and freedoms , in particular by exercising their
freedom of peaceful assembly. As the Government r ightly pointed out,
demonstrations similar to the one s banned in the present case are
commonplace in most European countries. It is also worth noting that in the
case of Bączkowski and Others it was the domestic authorities wh ich first
acknowledged the illegal nature of the ban initially imposed on similar
marches , when the ban was quashed by the appeal court (cited above, § 22) .
85 . The Court is therefore unable to accept the Government ‘s claim to a
wide margin of appreciation in the present case. It reiterates that any
decision restricting the exercise of freedom of assembly must be based on
an acceptable assessment of the relevant facts (see, among other authorities,
Christian Democrati c People ‘s Party , cited above, § 70). The only fact or

22 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
taken into account by the Moscow authorities was the public opposition to
the event, and the officials ‘ own views on morals .
86 . The mayor of Moscow , whose statements were essentially reiterated
in the Government ‘s observations, considered it necessary to confine every
mention of homosexual ity to the private sphere and to force gay men and
lesbian s out of the public eye , implying that homosexual ity was a result of a
conscious, and antisocial, choice. However, they were unable to provide
justification for such exclusion . There is no scientific evidence or
sociological data at the Court ‘s disposal suggesting that the mere mention of
homosexuality, or open public debate about sexual minorities ‘ social status ,
would adversely affect children or “vulnerable adults”. On the contrary, it is
only through fair and public debate that society may address such complex
issues as the one raised in the present case. Such debate, backed up by
academic research, would benefit social cohesion by ensuring that
representatives of all views are heard , including the individuals concerned.
It would also clarify some c ommon points of confusion , such as whether a
person may be educated or enticed in to or out of homosexuality, or opt in to
or out of it voluntarily . This was exactly the kind of debate that the
applicant in the present case attempted to launch, and it could not be
replaced by the officials spontaneously expressing uninformed views which
they consider ed popular . In the circumstance s of the present case the Court
cannot but conclude that the authorities ‘ decisions to ban the events in
question were not based on an acceptable assessment of the relevant facts.
87 . The foregoing considerations are sufficient to enable the Court to
conclude that the ban on the events organised by the applicant did not
correspond to a pressing social need and was thus not ne cessary in a
democratic society.
88 . There has accordingly been a violation of Article 11 of the
Convention.
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 13 OF THE CONVENTION
89 . The applicant complained under Article 13 of the Convention in
conjunction with Article 11 of the Convention that he did not have an
effective remedy against the alleged violation of his freedom of assembly.
He alleged in particular that he had not ha d at his disposal any procedu re
which would have allowed him to obtain a final decision prior to the date of
the planned demonstrations. Article 13 of the Convention reads:
“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated
shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the
violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 23

90 . The Government contested this allegation , claiming that the
applicant had had the possibility of bri ng ing judicial proceedings and had
availed himself of it.
A. Admissibility
91 . The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill -founded
within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. It further notes that
it is n ot inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared
admissible.
B. Merits
1. The parties ‘ submissions
(a) The Government
92 . The Government first indicated that the authorisation procedure was
different for marches and picketing and submitted that the applicant had
challenged the refusal of permission in respect of both types of events in
separate sets of proceedings. His claims had been examined by the courts
and rejected in reasoned decisions. All judicial hearings had proceeded
expedi tiousl y and in any event within the time -limits set by law.
93 . The Government also pointed out that the applicant had not always
take n procedural steps as soon as he could have done . In p articular, it had
taken him one month and fifteen days to appeal against the judgment of
26 May 2006, following an extension granted to him by the court after the
expiry of the statutory time -limit of ten days. Likewise, his appeal against
the judgment of 22 August 2006 had been lodged two months and ten days
after the judgment, again after the extension of the time -limit .
(b) The applicant
94 . The applicant contended that the judicial proceedings of which he
had availed himself to challenge the ban were not an effective remedy
because the general time -limits provided for by law did not allow a final
decision to be taken before the date of the disputed event. He referred to the
time -limits for giving notice of a proposed event as set out in section 7(1) of
the Assemblies Act , that is , no earlier t han fifteen days and no later than ten
days before the date of the event . Under A rticle 257 § 1 of the Code of Civil
Procedure and the provisions of the Code concerning the entry of judgment s
into force , he argued that any decision in the case – be it the first -instance
judgment or the appeal decision – was bound to become final only after the
planned date of the event. Therefore , the judicial reversal of the authorities ‘

24 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
refusal of permissio n to hold the event s would in any case have been
retrospective and therefore futile.
95 . He also contested the Government ‘s allegation that he had unduly
delayed appeal ing against the first -instance judgment. He asserted that the
appeals had been lodged as soon as the full text of the judgment had been
made available to him. Moreover , he contended that the appeal proceedings
had in any event been bound to take place after the intended date of the
event . Thus, t he event intended to be held on 27 May 2006 had been banned
by the first -instance court on 26 May 2006, only one day before the event.
There had been no possibility of having the appeal against the first -instance
judgment examined on the same day so that the event could have take n
place had the final decision been favourable to the applicant. The notices he
had submitted for the picketing had suffered a similar fate. The 2007 and
2008 applications had likewise been refused at final instance long after the
intended dates of the events. The applicant further contended that there
would have been no possibility of obtain ing a final decision before the event
in question even if the first -instance judgment had allowed the
demonstration . A first -instance judgment, if not appealed against , enter ed
into force ten days after the date of its adoption. This time -frame made it
impossible for the organisers of an event , even with their best efforts and
forward planning , to obtain a final decision before the scheduled date of the
event, because neither the administrative authorities nor the courts were
required to complete the proceedings before th at date.
96 . The applicant reiterated that the date for the events in issue had been
chos en intentio nally, on account of its symbolic meaning as the anniversary
of the abolition of criminal liability in Russia for homosexual acts.
Therefore , it was essential for the demonstration , if allowed, to be held on
that day.
2. The Court ‘s assessment
97 . The Court reiter ates that the effect of Article 13 is to require the
provision of a domestic remedy allowing the competent national authority
both to deal with the substance of the relevant Convention complaint and to
grant app ropriate relief, although Contracting States are afforded some
discretion as to the manner in which they comply with their obligations
under this provision (see, among many other authorities, Chahal
v. the United Kingdom , 15 November 1996, § 145, Reports of Judgments
and Decisions 1996 -V). In the present case the Court has found that the
applicant ‘s rights under Article 11 were infringed (see paragraph 88 above).
Therefore, he had an arguable claim within the meaning of the Court ‘s
case -law and was thus entitled to a remedy satisfying the requirements of
Article 13.
98 . The Court reiterates that , bearing in mind that the timing of public
events is crucial for the organisers and participants , and provided that the

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 25

organisers have given timely notice to the competent authorities, the notio n
of an effective remedy implies the possibility of obtain ing a ruling
concerning the authorisation of the event before the time at which it is
intended to take place (see Bączk owski and Others , cited above, § 81) . It is
therefore important for the effective enjoyment of freedom of assembly that
the applicable laws provide for reasonable time -limits within which the
State authorities, when giving relevant decisions, should act (ibid., § 83) .
99 . The Court observes that in the present case, t he applicable laws
provided for time -limits for the app licant to give notice of the event s. In
contrast, the authorities were not obliged by any legally binding time -frame
to give their final decisions before the planned date of the march or the
picketin g. The Court is therefore not persuaded that the judicial remed y
available to the applicant in the present case, which was of a post -hoc
character, could have provide d adequate redress in respect of the alleged
violations of the Convention.
100 . Therefore, the Court finds that the applicant has been denied an
effective do mestic remedy in respect of his complaint concerning a breach
of his freedom of assembly. Consequently, the Court concludes that there
has been a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with Article 11 of the
Convention.
III . ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 14 OF THE CONVENTION
101 . Lastly, the applicant complained of the discriminatory manner in
which the Moscow authorities had treated the application to hold the public
events organised by him. Relying on Article 14 in conjunction with
Article11 of the Convention, he contended that he had suffered
discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation and that of other
participants. Article 14 of the Convention reads:
“The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in [the] Con vention shall be
secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language,
religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a
national minority, property, birth or other status.”
102 . The Government disagreed with this allegation , claiming that the
ban had never been intended to discriminate against the applicant.
A. Admissibility
103 . The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill -founded
within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. It further notes that
it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared
admissible.

26 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
B. Merits
1. The parties ‘ submissions
104 . The Government denied that the ban imposed in the present case
was discriminat ory in nature. They stated that the e xistence of sexual
minorities was recognised by the authorities , as well as the necessit y to
make provision for the absence of discrimination against them . Howeve r, in
view of their antagonis tic relations with religious groups , it could prove
necessary to place restrictions on the exercise of their rights.
105 . The applicant, on the contrary, alleged that the ban on the events
had been disc riminatory. Despite the absence of express reference to sexual
orientation as grounds for the ban, it was clear that the main reason for its
refusal was the official disapproval of the participants ‘ moral standing. The
authorities had relied, in particular , on the disapproval of the events by
religious and other groups. In addition to that , the mayor of Moscow had
made a number of discriminatory statements, and there was a clear link
between the statements and the ban.
2. The Court ‘s assessment
106 . The Court has repeatedly held that Article 14 is not autonomous but
has effect only in relation to Convention rights. This provision complements
the other substantive provisions of the Convention and the Protocols. It has
no i ndependent existence since it has effect solely in relation to “the
enjoyment of the rights and freedoms” safeguarded by those provisions.
Alth ough the application of Article 14 does not presuppose a breach of
those provisions – and to this extent it is au tonomous – there can be no
room for its application unless the facts at issue fall within the ambit of one
or more of the latter (see, among other authorities, Van Raalte
v. Netherlands , 21 February 1997 , § 33 , Reports 1997 -I, and Gaygusuz
v. Austria , 16 September 1996 , § 36 , Reports 1996 -IV).
107 . It is common ground between the parties that the facts of the case
fall within the scope of Article 11 of the Convention. Hence, Article 14 is
applicable to the circumstances of the case.
108 . The Court reiterates that sexual orientation is a concept covered by
Article 14 (see, among other cases, Kozak v. Poland , no. 13102/02 , 2 March
2010 ). Furthermore, when the distinction in question operates in this
intimate and vul nerable sphere of an individual ‘s private life, particularly
weighty reasons need to be advanced before the Court to justify the measure
complained of. Where a difference of treatment is based on sex or sexual
orientation the margin of appreciation afforded to the State is narrow , and in
such situations the principle of proportionality does not merely require the
measure chosen to be suit able in general for realising the aim sought ; it
must also be shown that it was necessary in the circumstances. In deed, if the

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 27

reasons advanced for a difference in treatment were based solely on the
applicant ‘s sexual orientation, this would amount to discrimi nation under the
Convention ( ibid , § 92 ).
109 . It has been established above that the main reason for the ban
imposed on the events organised by the applicant was the authorities ‘
disapproval of demonstrations which they considered to promote
homosexuality (see paragraphs 77 -78 and 82 abov e). In particular, the Court
cannot disregard the strong personal opinions publicly expressed by the
mayor of Moscow and the undeniable link between these statements and the
ban . In the light of the se findings the Court also considers it established that
the applicant suffered discrimination on the grounds of his sexual
orientation and that of other participants in the proposed events. It further
considers that the Government did not provide any justification showing
that the impugned distinction was compatible with the standards of the
Convention.
110 . Accordingly, the Court considers that in the present case there has
been a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with Art icle 11 of the
Convention.
IV . APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
111 . Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols
thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allow s only
partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to
the injured party.”
A. Damage
112 . The applicant claimed 40,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non –
pecuniary damage.
113 . The Government contested the claim as excessive and
unreasonable. They requested the Court , if it were to find a violation in the
present case , to award the applicant the minimum amount possible.
114 . Having regard to the fact that the present case involved banning
multiple demonstrations for three consecutive years in violation of
Articles 11, 13 and 14 of the Convention, the Court, ruling on an equitable
ba sis, awards t he applicant EUR 12 ,000 in respect of non -pecuniary
damage .

28 ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT
B. Costs and expenses
115 . The applicants also claimed 18,700 Russian roubles (approximately
EUR 483) for the cost s and expenses incurred before the domestic courts
and EUR 17,027 for those incurred in the proceedings befo re the Court . He
submitted itemised claims, bills and supporting documents.
116 . The Government considered this part of the claims unsubstantiated.
They pointed out that the lawyer ‘s travel expenses for attending the hearings
in the domestic courts were unrelated to the proceedings before the Court
and were therefore not eligible for reimbursement . They further argued that
these costs and expenses could not be regarded as “actually and necessarily
incurred”, given that the three app lications form ing part of this case were
very similar and did not require the lawyer to develop a separate line of
argument for each case.
117 . According to the Court ‘s case -law, an applicant is entitled to the
reimbursement of cos ts and expenses only in so far as it has been shown that
these have been actually and necessarily incurred and were reasonable as to
quantum. The Court notes that the costs and expenses relate to three
consecutive sets of domestic proceedings and were incu rred over a period of
three years. Throughout these years the applicant was represented by
Mr Bartenev, the lawyer who also represented him before the Court.
Although the three applications have been joined in one case and therefore
the applicant was dispensed from the requirement to submit separate sets of
comments on the Government ‘s observations for each of them, the original
applications and the accompanying documents had to be prepared
separately. The amounts incurred by the applicant on account o f legal fees
do not appear excessive or disproportionate to the work performed. In the
present case, regard being had to the documents in its possession and the
above criteria , the Court considers it reasonable to award the applicant the
amount s claimed in full . It makes an aggregate award of EUR 17 ,510 , plus
any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant .
C. Default interest
118 . The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest should
be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to
which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
1. Declares the applications admissible;

ALEKSEYEV v. RUSSIA JUDGMENT 29

2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 11 of the Convention;

3. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 13 in conjunction with
Article 11 of the Convention;

4. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 14 in conjunction with
Article 11 of the Convention;

5. Holds
(a) that the respondent State is to pay t he applicant, within three months
from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with
Article 44 § 2 of the Convention the following amounts, to be converted
into Russian roubles at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 1 2,000 ( twelve thousand euros), plus any tax that may be
chargeable, in respect of non -pecuniary damage ;
(ii) EUR 17,510 (seventeen thousand five hundred and ten euros)
in respect of costs and expenses, plus any tax that may be
chargeable to the applicant;
(b) that from the expiry of the above -mentioned three months until
settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a
rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank
during the default period plus three percentage points;

6. Dismisses the remainder of the applicant ‘s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 21 October 2010 , pursuant to
Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
André Wampach Christos Rozakis
Deputy Registrar President

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