The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, validated a bill at first reading which bans undefined ‘propaganda’ of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues publicly.
The bill would make it illegal to discuss LGBT issues positively in the media, and include administrative fines and possibly prison terms.
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.”
Answering a question from GroenLinks in the Dutch national parliament, 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.
Letter from Marije Cornelissen MEP on suspending the EU-Ukraine visa-free agreement (PDF)
European Parliament strongly condemns homophobic laws and discrimination in Europe
MEPs worried by serious threats to freedom of expression