European Court of Human Rights rules Russia’s ‘gay propaganda laws’ are discriminatory and breach free speech

Bayev and Others v. Russia (application nos. 67667/09, 44092/12 and 56717/12) [2017] ECHR

On 20 June 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia's so-called "gay propaganda" laws breached Articles 10 (freedom of expression) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention of Human Rights. The challenge was brought by three Russian nationals who are gay rights activists and were fined for allegedly promoting homosexuality while demonstrating in public places.

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Australian High Court finds 5 parliamentarians incapable of being elected on the basis of foreign citizenships

Re Roberts [2017] HCA 39 (22 September 2017), Re Canavan; Re Ludlam; Re Waters; Re Roberts [No 2]; Re Joyce; Re Nash; Re Xenophon [2017] HCA 45 (27 October 2017) and Re Barrow [2017] HCA 47 (7 November 2017)

In three related decisions, the Australian High Court has for the first time ruled on several key aspects of section 44(i) of the Australian Constitution, relating to foreign citizenship for elected members of Parliament. The Court held that four Senators (Ludlam, Waters, Roberts and Nash), and one member of the House of Representatives (Joyce), were incapable of being elected to the Parliament because they were citizens of a foreign power.  The Court also held that two other Senators whose election had been referred to the Court (Canavan and Xenophon) were validly elected and capable of sitting in the Parliament.

It is expected that the election of a number of further members of Parliament may be referred to the Court shortly for consideration.

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UK High Court rejects challenge to prohibition on assisted dying

R (on the application of Noel Conway) v The Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWHC 2447 (Admin) (5 October 2017)

The UK High Court has rejected the latest legal challenge to the prohibition on assisted dying, holding that the prohibition represents a necessary and proportionate interference with the applicant’s right to private life. The Court placed reliance upon the fact that Parliament had repeatedly decided to leave the prohibition in place, providing a timely reminder of the crucial role of Parliament in promoting a person’s right to die with dignity in the context of the assisted dying laws currently being debated in Victorian Parliament.

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High Court of Australia finds marriage law postal survey is lawfully funded

Wilkie & Ors v The Commonwealth & Ors; Australian Marriage Equality Ltd & Anor v Minister for Finance & Anor [2017] HCA 40 (M105/M106 of 2017)

In M105/M106, the High Court dismissed two legal challenges to the Government's plan to carry out a voluntary postal survey on whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. The plaintiffs challenged the survey on the basis that it was not lawfully funded.

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UN finds that Australia breaches right to equality in same-sex divorce

United Nations Human Rights Committee – Views adopted by the Committee under article 5(4) of the Optional Protocol (CCPR/C/119/D/2216/2012)

The UN Human Rights Committee has held that Australia violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by failing to provide access to divorce proceedings for same-sex couples married overseas. The Committee reasoned that the differential treatment of same-sex couples as compared with overseas polygamous and adolescent marriages (between persons aged from 16 to 18 years) constituted discrimination under article 26 of the Covenant.

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