Konstantin Kosachev: Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe causes no regrets

Against the backdrop of what is happening, Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe and the denunciation of the European Convention on Human Rights is not regrettable

Konstantin Kosachev: Russia's withdrawal from the Council of Europe causes no regrets
Source: ruy.ru

Here is an example of yet another hypocrisy in the field of human rights by the European Court of Human Rights (from whose jurisdiction, let me remind you, Russia also withdrew completely and irrevocably). The Grand Chamber of the ECHR ruled that Russia violated the right to private and family life due to the non-recognition of same-sex marriages in the country (the case of Fedotova and Others v. Russia).

In November 2021, Russia forwarded the complaints of LGBT activists to the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR (appellate instance), which considered them last spring, but the final ruling was made public only now.

And here is the solution: the absence in Russia of a suitable form of registration of same-sex unions is a violation of Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ECHR not only grossly ignored the Russian Constitution, which defines the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman (Article 72), but also the opinion of the majority of Russians who do not approve of same-sex unions. According to the Court, public sentiment and morality cannot be grounds for non-observance of the Convention rights of minorities. The ECtHR decided that Russian legislation is “incompatible with the fundamental values of the Convention as an instrument of European public order”.

In its frenetic bid to protect the minority from majority opinion, the Grand Chamber (14 votes to 3) justified its approach on a “clear and continuing trend” that has already led to legal recognition of same-sex marriage and unions in 30 of the 47 (before Russia’s withdrawal) member countries of the Council Europe.

This legal method of interpreting the Convention is called the “European consensus” (also known as the “Strasbourg compromise”) and allows the ECtHR, relying on the position of the ultra-liberal majority of the Council of Europe, to impose its will on the minority, subordinating the states and forcing them to take certain legislative decisions, including on the issue of same-sex marriage.

At the same time, when it comes to minorities that are wrong from the point of view of the “Western European elites”, the ECtHR takes the exact opposite position. In Europe, for example, the courts stubbornly refuse to recognize the legal consequences of Muslim marriages (Syrian Citizen v. Sweden, MIG 2016:26). Is this not double standards?

It is also striking that judges from such conservative countries as Armenia, Albania, Romania, Serbia, where there are no legal forms of same-sex unions, voted in support of the decision in the Fedotova and Others v. Russia case. Now this judgment of the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR will have a dangerous precedent value in imposing European moral and legal values on other countries.

As for Russia, this decision does not give rise to any legal consequences for us. We made all the necessary decisions in a timely manner to protect our own development path.

Konstantin Kosachev

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