Ukraine’s anti-gay bill could lead to travel restrictions

Uri Rosenthal of the Netherlands (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Uri Rosenthal, foreign affairs minister of the Netherlands (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

If Ukraine passes a proposed law against “gay propaganda,” the country might be punished through tougher restrictions on travelers from there to European countries.

In recent years, Ukraine and the European Union have been reducing visa requirements for travelers.  Those changes could be reversed if Ukraine approves the bill that its parliament endorsed Oct. 2 on a first reading, say advocates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at the Europen Parliament. In response to that vote, the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights said:

The European Parliament has strongly condemned these proposals, recalling that they breach free speech obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup in the European Parliament, reacted: “Ukraine has set itself on a collision course with the rest of Europe. This law is not only backward-looking; it is purely anti-democratic, informed by nothing else than prejudice, and fully disrespects Ukraine’s legal obligations.

“I expected more from my Ukrainian colleagues, but in pre-election times, it is easy to score cheap points by witch-hunting the LGBT community. This is the 21st century, and diversity exists in all our societies.”

… Netherlands Foreign Affairs minister Uri Rosenthal said that, should the law pass, Ukraine’s visa-free travel agreement with the EU would be put on hold indefinitely.

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “Rather than moving closer to Europe, Ukraine is taking a giant step away from Europe and its values. No country that restricts free speech and violates the rights of its LGBT citizens can expect to remain quietly in the family of European nations.

“I am furious that Ukraine decides to blithely attack a vulnerable minority by denying them the right to free speech, and I expect the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly and Committee of Ministers to be strict and impartial in condemning this move.”

The law must be approved with a second reading and signed by the President before entering into force. Elections will take place in Ukraine on 28 October 2012.

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 [email protected]

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