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Ludford welcomes ECHR decision condemning Polish homophobia

May 4, 2007 9:17 PM

Baroness Sarah Ludford, London's Liberal Democrat MEP and member of the European parliament's gay and lesbian rights 'Intergroup' has welcomed the decision of the European Court of Human Rights which found Polish authorities in violation of several Articles under the European Convention after they refused permission in 2005 for a march to be organised by gay rights campaigners.

The Court found that Article 11 (freedom of association and assembly), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) had been violated. The ban was imposed by the then Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski, who is now Poland's controversial president.

Sarah Ludford commented:

"This judgement, the first time that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled specifically on the question of banning equality marches, lays down an important marker ahead of this year's gay pride marching season. The court's clarification that freedom of assembly applies fully to these events is, while fully expected, nonetheless most welcome. It is also encouraging that this judgment was fully supported by the court's Polish judge."

"This ruling sends a clear message to Poland that Europe will not stand idle in the face of blatant homophobic behaviour. Now we expect the European Union institutions (which are separate from the ECHR) to be similarly firm about Polish infringements of EU provisions on human rights."

"I acknowledge that since the case was introduced in 2005, the Polish authorities have responded to pressure and shown themselves more tolerant of such marches which have taken place successfully in Warsaw in 2006 and last month in Krakow. The judgement however extends to all local authorities in the 46 Member States of the Council of Europe - including all EU states - who must now abide by the fundamental principles of non-discrimination and freedom of assembly."

Notes

The ALDE group in the European Parliament to which Liberal Democrats belong is organising a public hearing on Gay Pride that will take place next Wednesday, 9th May (12.30-15.00) in the Parliament in Brussels, including with the participation of one of the applicants in this case, Mr Robert Biedro?. The programme for the hearing is available on www.alde.eu.

A summary of the ECHR ruling can be found at:

http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?item=1&;portal=hbkm&action=html&highlight=&sessionid=812539&skin=hudoc-pr-fr