As the U.S. retreats from global leadership, will the European Union become the world’s new watchdog? First, E.U. leaders continued to hammer Hungary over new legislation restricting foreign-funded NGOs. Then, human rights advocates cheered a ruling on Tuesday against Russia’s anti-gay laws by the E.U.’s top human rights court.

With fresh developments in the worrying clamp down on civil society abroad, from Egypt to Russia, it was heartening to see the court rule in favor of three gay activists, as reported by the New York Times, especially after gay men were reportedly rounded up and tortured in Chechnya, a federal subject of Russia:

The prohibition, codified in national law in 2013, has been seen as a central plank of President Vladimir V. Putin’s nationalist message, one that has positioned Russia as a defender of Christian and traditional values, and the West as decadent and godless.

Ruling in favor of three gay activists, the European Court of Human Rights found that “the very purpose of the laws and the way they were formulated and applied” was “discriminatory and, over all, served no legitimate public interest.” It ordered Russia to pay the men a total of 43,000 euros, or $48,000, in damages.

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