Europe to Russia and Ukraine: Nix censorship laws

This is a press release from the European Parliament, issued Dec. 13, 2012. (The photos are not part of the press release.)


European Parliament calls on Russia and Ukraine to shelve censorship laws

Protester in St. Petersburg. (Photo courtesy of
Protester in St. Petersburg. (Photo courtesy of

In two resolutions adopted today, the European Parliament has called once more on Russia and Ukraine to abandon new censorship plans. These draft laws would punish the positive portrayal of LGBT people with both fines and prison sentences.

In Russia, as many as nine regions now punish the ‘propaganda of homosexuality’ with fines and imprisonment. Adopted since 2006 and more frequently in the last year, these laws are used to ban gay prides and stop young people receiving positive information about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

National lawmakers representing United Russia, Vladimir Putin’s party, are now pushing to extend this law to the federal level.

Dmitry Medvedev, currently Prime Minister, declared however that such laws weren’t needed.

Thugs beat gay activist in Ukraine (Photo courtesy of Reuters)
Thugs beat gay activist in Ukraine in May. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)

Ukraine’s parliament is also about to adopt Bill 8711. The draft law would punish the same actions with fines, and up to 5 years in prison.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on Russia and one on Ukraine, both calling on the respective countries to shelve these laws.

The resolutions also underline that the two countries must respect a recent ruling by the UN Human Rights Committee in Fedotova v. Russia, which condemned Russia for limiting freedom of speech in a discriminatory fashion.

Concerning Ukraine, both the European Commission and the Netherlands have said Bill 8711 would be an obstacle to concluding the EU-Ukraine visa-free travel agreement.

Arrest during Kiev protest on Dec. 8. (Photo courtesy of
Arrest during gay rights protest on Dec. 8 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, concluded:

“I was in Russia and know that Russian people are open- minded, diverse and accepting. Gay and transgender people aren’t a ‘Western import’, just like classical music, literature and opera aren’t a ‘Russian import’: it’s part of both our cultures, we all do it differently but we all do it. Russian and Ukrainian politicians must stop creating dangers out of thin air, and respect everyone’s right to free speech.”

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, reacted:

“Both Russia and Ukraine signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenent on Civil and Political Rights. No-one forced them to, and they must now respect their international obligations.”

“The European Union will remain strong in its demands, and will continue supporting the activists who bravely defy these unfair laws.”

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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