LGBT Rights in Russia from a Legal Perspective
Legal History > Consenting sexual acts between adult men were decriminalised in Russia in 1993 under Boris Yeltsin Presidency. Consenting sexual acts between adult women have never been explicitly criminalised. Historically, male sex relations ware criminalized by Stalin in 1934 after they were de facto decriminalized by Lenin in 1917. In 1999, homosexuality stopped to be considered as a mental illness by the Russian Psychiatrists. Although there have been several attempts to re-criminalised homosexuality and propaganda of homosexuality in the last five years, many saw it as a pure PR action from their initiators. Membership of Russia in the Council of Europe does not allow such action.
Discrimination > Russian legislation does not explicitly prohibits sexual orientation discrimination.
Sex workers > Although it is an administrative offence to receive money for sexual services with a fine as a maximum punishment, paying for sex in Russia is not a criminal offence provided you comply with the age requirements.
TODAY IN HISTORY
In 1993, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree which repealed the law forbidding male homosexuality. Starting from 2006, Russian gay rights activists started to celebrate this date by attempting to organize an annual gay rights march known as Moscow Gay Pride. The first edition was banned and marred with violence. It was reffered as the first Russian Stonewall.
This day was founded in 2004 by French Academic Louis-Georges Tin to mark the anniversary of the declassification of homosexuality from the list of disease by the World Health Organization. Russian LGBT have been celebrating this day every year since 2005 under the leadership of Project GayRussia which was itself founded on May 17, 2005. GayRussia is Russia's coordinator of IDAHO.
Following Moscow in May 2009, Minsk was the second capital to host the Slavic Gay Pride. The March was banned and marred with violence but it did not prevent two dozens of Pride organizers from Moscow, Minsk and St. Petersburg to march over 300 meters waiving a 10meters long rainbow flag. 11 participants including some of the organizers were brutally arrested by police forces.
2009 marked the launch of GayRussia's campaign for the opening of same-sex union of gays and lesbians in Russia. While the Constitutional Court already expressd the opinion that marriage is between a man and a woman, activists believe that the lack of partnership or marriage for gay couples is a strong point to impose legislative changes via a decision of the European Court of Human Rights.
The five-judge panel of the Grand Chamber of the Court rejected the appeal of the Russian Federation in the Moscow Pride Ban case. The decision given on October 21 is final. By repeatedly banning Gay Pride Marches as well as other LGBT themed public action, Russia breached the European Convention on Human Rights.