Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohus
12.05.2015

Facts

The applicants are a non-governmental organisation (NGO) set up to promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Georgia, and 14 Georgian nationals. The NGO organised a demonstration in Tbilisi to mark the International Day against Homophobia. The NGO notified the authorities of the intention to hold a peaceful march and requested that the authorities provide sufficient protection against possible violence, having regard to hostility towards sexual minorities in some quarters of Georgian society.

During the event, demonstrators were threatened by counter-demonstrators – members of two religious groups – who outnumbered them. The counter-demonstrators shouted insults at the marchers, blocked their passage and encircled them. Eventually the counter-demonstrators attacked several of the applicants physically, leaving at least three of them with injuries. According to the applicants, the police remained relatively passive in the face of the violence.

Complaint

The applicants complained that the Georgian authorities had failed to protect them from the violent attacks of the counter-demonstrators and to effectively investigate the incident by establishing, in particular, the discriminatory motive behind the attacks. The applicants further complained that they had been unable to proceed with their peaceful march owing to the assaults and the inaction of the police.

Court's ruling

The authorities thus knew or ought to have known of the risks surrounding that event, and they had therefore been under an obligation to provide heightened protection. However, only a limited number of police officers had initially been deployed and they had allowed the tension to develop into physical violence. Furthermore, instead of focusing on restraining the most aggressive counter-demonstrators with the aim of allowing the peaceful demonstration to proceed, the police had taken to arresting and evacuating some of the applicants, thus the very victims whom they had been called to protect. The Court therefore considered that the authorities had failed to provide adequate protection to the applicants against the attacks.

The Court noted that the applicants had filed criminal complaints shortly afterwards and had repeatedly submitted requests for an investigation. However, instead of launching a comprehensive and meaningful inquiry into the circumstances, the authorities had inexplicably narrowed the scope of the investigation and had opened two separate cases concerning only the physical injuries inflicted on two of the applicants. Even in those cases no significant progress had been made for over two years.

In the light of these considerations, the Court concluded that there had been a violation of Article 3 in conjunction with Article 14.