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They were not allowed to draw graffiti. LGBT activists submit a complaint against the Georgian government to the European Court of Human Rights

Published: 16.04.2020

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The European Court of Human Rights will deal with the complaint of LGBT activists from Georgia. As a basis for human rights violations, the activists have pointed at the fact that the police prevented them from drawing graffiti on the wall of the Orthodox Church patriarch's residence. Another reason for the complaint was the government's alleged failure to provide sufficient security measures, which supposedly forced the activists to cancel their ideological demonstration. The Ordo Iuris Institute joined the case acting as amicus curiae.

Last autumn, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg reported to the Georgian government that LGBT activists had submitted a complaint against it. In the complaint, the activists accused the Georgian police of violating their right to personal freedom. The reason for the complaint was the fact that the activists were detained for 12 hours in order to prevent them from drawing graffiti on the wall of the Orthodox Church patriarch's residence. Another accusation put forward by the activists was the alleged violation of their freedom of assembly. The activists felt forced to cancel the demonstration on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia because, in their opinion, the government did not provide them with adequate security measures.

In March 2020, the Ordo Iuris Institute joined the case acting as amicus curiae, having obtained the approval of the President of Section V of the Strasbourg Court, which is dealing with the complaint. In its written statement, the Institute indicated that according to settled case-law of the ECtHR, the burden of proving human rights violations lies with the applicants and not with the government accused of the violation. Therefore, the LGBT activists that accuse the government of denying them the protection necessary for the safe conduct of the demonstration should provide concrete evidence showing that their lives were genuinely in danger and that the authorities were indeed not willing to help. Otherwise, the allegation of violating the freedom of assembly by preventing the conduction of the demonstration in a safe environment will have to be considered unfounded.

‘Regarding the complaint against the actions taken by the Georgian police to prevent the activists from drawing graffiti on the residence of the Orthodox Church patriarch, there is no doubt that the state has the right to restrict personal freedom – for example, by preventive detention of persons suspected of intending to commit a crime – in order to protect the rights and freedoms of others. In this particular case, the police protected private property against an act of vandalism and, at the same time, the religious feelings of Orthodox believers, for whom the person of the patriarch deserves respect’ – commented Karolina Pawłowska, Director of the International Law Centre of the Ordo Iuris Institute.

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