1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Russia slams European court over same-sex union ruling

July 14, 2021

Europe's top human rights court had called on Russia to establish a legal framework for same sex partnerships. Russia said the verdict contradicted its laws and morality.

An activist hold an LGBTQ rainbow flag in the 2017 St. Petersburg Pride march.
Homosexuality is not banned in Russia, but it is taboo due to the influential Russian Orthodox ChurchImage: Imago/ZUMA Press/V. Egorshin

Russia on Wednesday deemed a call by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as foreign "meddling" in the country's domestic affairs.

A day earlier, the court ruled that Russia should respect and acknowledge same-sex couples by providing a legal framework for their relationships.

What did Russia say?

The ruling "contradicts the foundations of Russian rule of law and morality," Vasily Piskarev, a lawmaker who heads a parliamentary commission dedicated to investigating foreign interference, was quoted as saying by Russian state news agency RIA.

"This is clear systemic meddling in Russia's internal affairs," Piskarev said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had also said that the court's request would contradict Russia's constitution.

Last year, Russia adopted a set of constitutional amendments that emphasized the primacy of Russian law over international norms. It also stipulated that "institution of marriage is a union between a man and a woman." 

Putin's constitutional reform

"The wording in the constitution is absolutely unambiguous and there is an unambiguous number of Russian citizens who support this unambiguous position," Peskov said.

What did the ECHR rule?

The case was brought forward to the ECHR by three Russian same-sex couples after their attempts to reigster their relationships were unsuccessful.

The court ruled that Russia violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which outlines a right to respect for private and family life.

Russia had "an obligation to ensure respect for the applicants' private and family life by providing a legal framework allowing them to have their relationships acknowledged,'' the court said.  

The ECHR did not specify that Russia must legalize same-sex marriage. It rather urged Russia to recognize and protect the couples' relationships. It said it was ultimately up to Russia to find the most appropriate way to achieve this. 

The judges also rejected Russia's argument about lacking public acceptance of same-sex relationships, saying, "Access to rights for a minority could not be dependent on the acceptance of the majority."

Homosexuality is not outlawed in Russia, but LGBTQ activists have repeatedly reported being subject to discrimination and violence.

fb/msh (Reuters, AP, dpa)