Summary: UN Human Rights Committee tells Russia to acknowledge hate crimes against LGBT people

2nd April 2015: The UN Human Rights Committee has for the first time told Russia to take into account homophobia or transphobia as a motive in the investigation of crimes against LGBT people. The Committee issued its concluding observations based on the seventh periodic report of the Russian Federation. A section of the document was dedicated to a list of issues and recommendations relating to the rights of LGBT individuals.

As a result of this UN ruling, the provisions of the Russian Criminal Code recognising hatred of any “social group” as an aggravating circumstance in crimes can now be used to protect the rights of LGBT people. Law enforcement agencies and the courts must now specifically investigate the motive of attacks on people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In addition to the recommendations dealing with hate crimes, the Human Rights Committee has urged the Russian Federation to make a public declaration about the inadmissibility of any form of social stigmatisation of homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender, as well as discrimination or hate speech directed against Russian citizens because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The committee recommended that Russia allow freedom of expression and freedom of assembly for LGBT people, and repeal the state and federal laws prohibiting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” as reinforcing negative stereotypes of LGBT people, and restricting their rights.

Kseniya Kirichenko of Russian LGBT rights organisation Coming Out said, “The recommendations are truly of historical significance for the protection of the rights of LGBT people and LGBT human rights defenders. Until now the main obstacle for the effective investigation of crimes committed based on homophobia or transphobia was a problem of non-recognition of LGBT people as a social group. This fact was used to refuse to initiate criminal proceedings or to qualify attacks as minor offences. Now we have a serious argument that can lead to the formation of a new judicial practice, and we intend to refer to the recommendations of the Human Rights Committee in our cases in St. Petersburg”.

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