Major victory for LGB people secured by LGB Alliance

European Court of Human Rights Rules That Russia And 16 Other European Countries Must Pass Civil Partnership Laws For Same-Sex Couples

London, 17 January 2023:  Today, in the case of Fedotova & Others v. Russia, brought by three same-sex couples who were unable to marry or otherwise register their relationships, the 17-judge Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled (by 14 to 3) that Russia must create a “legal framework” for same-sex couples, similar to the UK’s Civil Partnership Act 2004.  Although the Russian Government has a legal obligation to comply with the Court’s judgment, it is unlikely to do so, in view of its ongoing failure to comply with Alekseyev v. Russia (2010), by allowing a Pride event in Moscow.  However, the principle of the judgment will apply to 16 countries that are still member states of the Council of Europe:  Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine. 

The Court said (, paras. 178, 180, 219): “in accordance with their positive obligations under Article 8 [respect for family life] of the [European] Convention [on Human Rights], the member States are required to provide a legal framework allowing same‑sex couples to be granted adequate recognition and protection of their relationship. … [R]ecognition and protection of that kind confers legitimacy on such couples and promotes their inclusion in society, regardless of sexual orientation. The Court emphasises that a democratic society within the meaning of the Convention rejects any stigmatisation based on sexual orientation … [T]he allegedly negative, or even hostile, attitude on the part of the heterosexual majority in Russia cannot be set against the applicants’ interest in having their respective relationships adequately recognised and protected by law.”

The Court noted (paras. 11, 127, 128) the third-party intervention submitted by LGB Alliance on 4 February 2022, which (along with other interventions) helped to persuade the Court to find a violation of the Convention.  LGB Alliance urged the Court to apply the majority’s reasoning in Oliari & Others v. Italy (2015) to every member state of the Council of Europe, whether or not public opinion was in favour of a law for same-sex couples.  LGB Alliance pointed out that “[a]t least twenty times, the Court has found violations of the human rights of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons in countries in which the majority was unsympathetic or hostile to LGB persons at the time of the judgment”.  LGB Alliance also drew attention to the increase in the number of Council of Europe countries in which same-sex couples may marry or otherwise register their relationships from 24 in 2015 to 30 (out of 46) today.

Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at King’s College London and a Trustee of LGB Alliance, responsible for drafting LGB Alliance’s intervention, said: “This is a huge victory for same-sex couples in Europe.  It ends over seven years of uncertainty about whether the Court’s 2015 judgment against Italy – which led to Italy’s 2016 law on civil unions for same-sex couples – would apply to countries in Eastern Europe, such as Turkey, Ukraine, Poland, and Romania.  It paves the way for a future judgment of the Court, at the appropriate time, requiring all 46 Council of Europe member states to grant same-sex couples equal access to legal marriage.”


You can read our Written Submission here:

The full judgment can be read here: