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Refusal to investigate hate-speech comments about same-sex kiss on Facebook was discriminatory | European Court of Human Rights

14 January 2020, the ECtHR found sexual orientation discrimination (violating Article 14 taken with Article 8 EConHR) in Beizaras & Levickas v. Lithuania (litigated by ECSOL-members Robert Wintemute and Tomas V. Raskevicius). The case concerns failure to investigate anti-LGB hate speech (including threats of violence) posted on Facebook, after a male-male couple posted to Facebook a photo of themselves kissing.

Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at King's College London (UK) and co-representative of the applicants, said:  "I am very pleased that the European Court of Human Rights has sent such a strong message to national authorities across Europe that they must take anti-LGBTI hate speech seriously, and investigate complaints, even about a single hateful comment on Facebook, let alone one that LGBTI persons should be killed.  The Court rejected the Government of Lithuania's claim that there had been no discrimination in the decision not to investigate.  On the contrary, it was the Lithuanian courts'  'disapproval of the applicants’ demonstrating their sexual orientation', by posting on Facebook a photo of themselves kissing, that proved the discrimination.  I would read the judgment as implicitly upholding the right of a same-sex couple to express affection in public, whether in a park or cafe or bus, or on the street or on Facebook, in the same way as a different-sex couple."

The judgment

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