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Re Marriage Case No. 33-1252, Moscow City Court, Russian Federation (21 January 2010)

Procedural Posture

Cassation appeal.


Whether the registration of a same-sex marriage was possible under Russian legislation pertaining to marriages.


The Tver Civil Registry Department in Moscow refused to allow the plaintiffs to register a same-sex marriage. The Tver District Court of Moscow upheld the decision and the plaintiffs appealed to the Moscow City Court.

Domestic Law

Family Code of the Russian Federation.

International Law

Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Article 13.

European Convention on Human Rights, Article 12.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 23.

Reasoning of the Court

The plaintiffs argued that the relevant law had been incorrectly interpreted and applied and that the original decision had violated their right to marry under international law, in particular under Article 12 of the European Convention, which provided that men and women of marriageable age had the right to marry and found a family, according to national laws governing the exercise of that right. The Court concluded that the Russian Family Code was consistent with the right, but held that a normal legal marriage was correctly defined as a voluntary conjugal union between a man and a woman.

The plaintiffs’ also argued that, because the Family Code did not explicitly indicate that the partners to a marriage had to be male and female, same-sex marriages were legal. The Court held that the ambiguity of the law did not provide grounds for concluding that same-sex couples were permitted to marry.

The plaintiffs failed in their appeal and the decision of Tver District Court of Moscow was upheld.

Re Marriage Case No. 33-1252, Moscow City Court, Russian Federation – Russian (full text of judgment in Russian, PDF)