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    European Human Rights Court Rules Putin's Gay 'Propaganda' Law Illegally Encourages Homophobia, Discrimination

    Law Was 'A Central Plank of President Vladimir V. Putin’s Nationalist Appeal'

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    In a major win for the embattled LGBT community in Russia the European Court of Human Rights has ruled Vladimir Putin's horrific laws against gay "propaganda" encourage homophobia and discrimination. Putin enacted the legislation in 2013, fueling international outrage ahead of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. Put simply, the laws ban anything Russian officials say "promote" homosexuality or portray it as natural to children. 

    The European Court of Human Rights ruled Russia's anti-gay laws violate two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including freedom of expression and prohibition of discrimination.

    Calling it a "sharply worded rebuke to the Kremlin," The Guardian reports the "Russian law bans giving children any information about homosexuality and is widely thought to have made life harder for gay Russians, who were already battling deep social prejudices. The Disney film Beauty and the Beast fell foul of the law, when a ruling party MP called for the musical to be banned."

    The nearly-unanimous 6-1 decision "took apart the arguments put forward by Russian government lawyers, rejecting claims the law protected public morals, health and other people’s rights," The Guardian reports. The ruling itself says the state's actions are "likely to be counterproductive in achieving the declared legitimate aims of protection of health and the protection of the rights of others."

    Putin's law was used to ban free speech rights of LGBT activists and to arrest them. But it also sent a strong message to Russian thugs and gangs, letting them know attacks on LGBT people would not be prosecuted by law enforcement authorities. The gay "propaganda" law has fueled an already homophobic culture and is responsible for horrific acts of violence against LGBT people.

    Those acts have grown, from homophobic gangs using social media to entrap and rape gay men to now verified report the government of Chechnya is detaining gay men in concentration camps, where they are tortured and even killed.

    The anti-gay law "has been seen as a central plank of President Vladimir V. Putin’s nationalist appeal, one that has positioned Russia as a defender of Christian and traditional values, and the West as decadent and godless," The New York Times adds.

    Ruling in favor of three gay activists, the European Court of Human Rightsfound that “the very purpose of the laws and the way they were formulated and applied” was “discriminatory and, over all, served no legitimate public interest.” It ordered Russia to pay the men a total of 43,000 euros, or $48,000, in damages.

    “By adopting such laws,” the seven-judge panel of the court added, “the authorities had reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia, which was incompatible with the values of a democratic society.”

    Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alekseev posted this response to Facebook:

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