Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group and Others v. Georgia (Applications nos. 73204/13 and 74959/13)

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgement.


66.  More importantly, the Court considers that the protraction of the investigation exposed the domestic authorities’ long-standing inability – which can also be read as unwillingness – to examine the homophobic and/or transphobic motives behind the violence and degrading treatment committed against the relevant twenty-seven individual applicants. The domestic criminal legislation expressly provided that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity should be treated as a bias motivation and an aggravating circumstance in the commission of an offence (see Identoba and Others, cited above, §§ 29 and 77). There was a pressing need to conduct a meaningful inquiry into the possibility that discrimination had been the motivating factor, given the well-documented hostility against the LGBT community in the country at the material time (see Aghdgomelashvili and Japaridze, cited above, § 47). 

67.  The Court thus finds that the domestic authorities have failed to conduct a proper investigation into the hate-motivated ill-treatment against the relevant twenty-seven individual applicants. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 3 under its procedural limb read together with Article 14 of the Convention. 

73.  The Court thus finds that all the risks associated with the IDAHO event were fully known in advance to the domestic authorities (see, in this connection, Primov and Others v. Russia, no. 17391/06, § 150, 12 June 2014), and that they were consequently under an obligation to provide heightened State protection (see Aghdgomelashvili and Japaridze, cited above, § 47). Despite this exacting obligation and the full knowledge of the risks, the authorities’ response to the gravity of the situation was merely to deploy unarmed and unprotected police patrol officers who were supposed to contain the tens of thousands of aggressive people by forming thin human cordons. […] 

75.  […] There are also images filmed by independent journalists which suggest that not only did the police not resist the breaking of the cordons in some instances, a number of police officers even encouraged the counterdemonstrators to do so. Furthermore, the Court finds it particularly striking how certain senior officials of the Ministry of the Interior remained passive in the face of the threats to public order and even constitutional order unabashedly proffered by the organisers of the counter-demonstration. Thus, on the basis of the available video evidence, as well as the individual accounts of each of the twenty-seven applicants, the Court finds it established beyond reasonable doubt that the police in some places opened up the cordon for the counterdemonstrators and in others remained passive when the counterdemonstrators started to break the cordon. 

76.  Furthermore, the Court, referring to its finding above about the failure to conduct an effective criminal investigation into the violence committed against the participants in the IDAHO event, and in particular the failure to investigate the prejudice-based motives underlying the private individuals’ acts, points out that this procedural failure contributes to official acquiescence or connivance in hate crimes (see, as a recent authority, Beizaras and Levickas v. Lithuania, no. 41288/15, § 155, 14 January 2020, and also the references cited in fine of paragraph 63 above). Indeed, the Court cannot exclude the possibility that the unprecedented scale of violence committed against the participants in the IDAHO event on 17 May 2013 was conditioned, at least in part, by the domestic authorities’ failure to secure a timely and objective criminal investigation and punishment of the perpetrators of comparatively less violent attacks on the LGBT community during the previous year’s IDAHO event on 17 May 2012 (see Identoba and Others, cited above, §§ 75-78). The passivity of the authorities in the face of the violent acts committed on 17 May 2013 is regarded as having contributed to the subsequent proliferation, which is well-documented, of hate crimes against the LGBT community (see paragraph 44 above). 

78.  In the light of the foregoing, having regard to the respondent authorities’ failure to effectively take operational preventive measures aimed at protecting the IDAHO event from the violent counterdemonstration, the indications of official acquiescence, connivance and even active participation in individual acts motivated by prejudice, the Court concludes that there has been a violation of Article 3 under its substantive limb read together with Article 14 of the Convention. 


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