Local Court Dismisses LGBT Complaints
Published: October 2, 2013 (Issue # 1780)
A St. Petersburg court has backed the authorities over the dispersal of an authorised St. Petersburg LGBT Pride event that took place on the Field of Mars on June 29.
After the activists were attacked by nationalist and Orthodox anti-gay protesters, the police broke up the rally and arrested all the demonstrators, referring to orders they received from city authorities. The lone city official at the event later denied having given any instructions to the police, while also claiming that he was officially on holiday at the time and was present at the gay-rights protest “in an unofficial capacity.”
During the following three months, local courts threw out cases against 29 of about 70 activists who were charged with violating the rules governing public events and failing to obey police. The cases against most of the remaining participants were returned to the police for review and have not yet been brought before the court.
On Sept. 25, the Smolninsky District Court dismissed a complaint filed by the rally organizer Yury Gavrikov on against the authorities and police over the dispersal of the rally, ruling police colonel Pyotr Chuiko had acted within the law.
At the hearing, the police gave a different account of why the rally had been stopped, according to Gavrikov, who chairs the LGBT rights organization Ravnopraviye (Equality). Previously Chuiko and the police press service referred to instructions officers had received from city authorities as the grounds for dispersing the rally.
In court, however, a police representative said that the rally was dispersed due to complaints by local residents, who saw the event as “homosexual propaganda,” as well as due to rioting and threats to the life and health of participants. Strumentov, who usually represents City Hall at public protests, wrote a letter to the court claiming he did not make any decisions about stopping the rally and was present there in an unofficial capacity.
Judge Tatyana Matusyak was satisfied with the grounds presented by the authorities and dismissed the complaint.
According to Gavrikov, the police should have prevented anti-gay protesters from attacking the participants, rather than disperse the legally sanctioned rally.
“Officially, City Hall refers to the police, while the police refer to City Hall, and documents about ending the rally have not been made available,” Gavrikov said in a statement on Sept. 26.
“This is absurd considering the acquittal of both the organizer and participants, who were accused of allegedly holding an unsanctioned rally by other courts. The ruling by Judge Matusyak, who is covering up the illegal activity of the administration and the police, will be appealed as soon as the ruling is published.”
Preventing a public assembly from being held is a crime in Russia and is punishable by up to three years in prison.