Will Europe pressure Ukraine to reject anti-gay bills?

European parliament building
European parliament building

Human rights activists are urging the European parliament to delay a move to ease requirements for visas for travel to and from Ukraine until that country drops efforts to curtail human rights of LGBT people.

A vote on whether the European Union will allow visa-free travel from the Ukraine is expected on April 17, Gay Star News reported.

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Europe said that before the visa process is changed:

Ukraine should honour the commitments it made to introduce a prohibition on sexual orientation discrimination in employment but that it has yet to fulfil.

Moreover, the Ukrainian Parliament is currently debating two separate discriminatory proposals. First is to ban ‘promotion of homosexuality’ which if adopted will seriously undermine the freedom of expression on the grounds of sexual orientation and the second is to introduce a crime of ‘propaganda of same-sex relationship’ punishable by imprisonment.

These draft laws go completely against the fundamental principles of the European Union and Ukraine commitments.

Human Rights Watch made a similar statement:

“These blatantly discriminatory anti-LGBT bills should never have gotten this far in the legislative process,” said Anna Kirey, LGBT research fellow at Human Rights Watch. “Ukrainian lawmakers should reject these bills and send a clear signal that ‘propaganda’ laws are off the table for good.”

“At the same time as Ukraine is seeking to deepen its relations with the EU, it is pushing through laws that are wholly inconsistent with fundamental human rights and core European values,” Kirey said. “The European Parliament should stand by the EU’s reform demands and insist that Ukraine meets its commitments to human rights protection, including for LGBT people, before agreeing to any moves toward closer relations.”

ILGA provided these summaries of Ukraine’s proposed anti-homosexuality laws:

(3) Law 0945 (former Bill 8711) ‘on Amending Some Legislative Acts (protection of children from harmful information)’ was passed by the Ukrainian Parliament in the first reading in October 2012 and is waiting to be voted in the second reading. If adopted, the bill would modify several existing laws in Ukraine, including criminal law, and introduce sanctions for the import, production and distribution of products that would ‘promote’ homosexuality. ‘Promotion of homosexuality’ is itself undefined by this law initiative. If passed in the second reading, it would lead to further marginalisation of the Ukrainian LGBTI community and would limit the work of human rights defenders. In case of new elections in Ukraine, the Bill will automatically pass on to the new Parliament.

Law 1155 ‘on prohibition of propaganda of same-sex relationships’ was proposed by deputy Kolesnichenko from the Party of Regions in December 2012, but this law has not been voted on yet. The draft of the new law is very restrictive and detailed: it provides a clear, very restrictive definition of propaganda: basically any positive statement or action (see below). Sanctions provided are high: it could be a criminal offense and imprisonment could be applied.  Article 5 of the draft law states the following prohibited forms of information:

  • Rallies, parades, actions, pickets, demonstrations and other mass gatherings;
  • Training classes, case discussions, interactive games, educational classes, and other activities of educational and developmental nature on the subject of same-sex relationships communicated to children individually and within training events;
  • Dissemination by the media of positive information about homosexuals or support in any form of the lifestyle of homosexuals;
  • Distribution in preschool and secondary schools of positive information in any form about homosexuality and homosexual lifestyle.

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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