Yesterday’s ruling that the ban on Warsaw Gay Pride 2005 violated the European Charter of Human Rights has been welcomed by MEPs.

The European Court of Human Rights agreed that freedom of association and assembly, prohibition of discrimination and the right to an effective remedy had been denied, all of which are guaranteed in the convention.

The judges of the Strasbourg Court were unanimous in their decision highlighting the ‘crystal clear’ nature of the situation.

The news follows the adoption of a resolution in the European Parliament condemning the rise of homophobia in Europe and in particular in Poland.

“I am extremely pleased by this ruling,” said Michael Cashman, who is a Labour MEP representing the West Midlands.

He is president of the Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights.

“It is a vindication of everything that we have been saying about the actions of the Government of Poland against the fundamental freedoms of Polish LGBT men and women.

“This ruling is first and foremost the victory of courage; it took courage for Polish LGBT activists to decide to fight this decision right through to Strasbourg.

“Their actions were rewarded, and in doing so have become shining examples of what it is to be a human rights defender in 21st Century Europe.”

Sophie In`t Veld, Vice-President of the Intergroup added:

“This judgement lays down an important marker ahead of this year’s gay pride marching season.

“Since the case was introduced in 2005, the Polish authorities have duly authorised and protected such marches which have taken place successfully in Warsaw in 2006 and last month in Krakow.

“The judgement however extends to all local authorities in the Member States of the Council of Europe who must now abide by the fundamental principles of non-discrimination and freedom of assembly.”

Lib Dem MEP Sarah Ludford commented: “This judgement is extremely important as it is the first time that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled specifically on the question of banning Equality and Gay Pride marches.

“Its clarification that freedom of assembly applies fully to these events is, while fully expected, nonetheless welcome.

“I also welcome the fact that this judgment, which confirms the rulings of the Polish judicial authorities in quashing the decision of the then Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski (now Poland’s President), was fully supported by the Polish judge in the Strasbourg-based Court of Human Rights.”