Ukraine votes for ‘anti-gay propaganda’ bill

English: Viktor Yanukovych
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Ukraine parliament today approved an “anti-gay propaganda” bill by a near-unanimous vote.

The bill was passed 289-0, with one abstention and 60 deputies absent.

If enacted, the bill would ban the import, manufacture or distribution of products that promote homosexuality and the use of media, TV or radio
broadcasting for homosexual “propaganda.”  The bill calls for fines or a prison sentences of up to five years for violations.

It was not immediately clear whether it would be as broad-ranging as this year’s new law in St. Petersburg, Russia, that has been used against even general discussions of homosexuality in the presence of minors. The Ukraine bill is labeled as a proposal aimed at “protection of children’s rights in the safe information sphere.”

“It is not clear what is counted as ‘propaganda’ under the proposed law. It could be an interview in the media or a protest. Or you could just be out on the street with your partner and someone could complain to say that is propaganda,” Olena Shevchenko of the Ukrainian human rights group Insight told Gay Star News.

The bill is scheduled for a second vote on Oct. 16 before it would be signed by Volodymyr Lytvyn, chairman of the Ukraine parliament; by Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych; and then become law.

Strasbourg / The Council of Europe
Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg, France (Photo courtesy of Dominique Edte via Flickr)

About 20 gay rights activists protested outside the parliament against the proposal, which was scheduled for a vote only the day before.

Shevchenko said the bill has several discriminatory provisions.

“Because the document does not define the concept of ‘propaganda,’ it leaves room for interpretation,” she said. “It is aimed at censoring the media, civil society activists and human rights defenders.”

Opponents of the bill include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations office in Ukraine, the European Parliament and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

In a letter opposing the bill, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said, “By restricting the publication and dissemination of materials related to sexual orientation and gender identity, this bill would severely restrict access to information about health, support networks, and social activities for countless young people.”

Activists said they will ask the Council of Europe to intervene to stop the bill.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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