European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Ukrainian Parliament discusses law amendments banning the promotion of homosexuality

At the day that the first Gay Pride is held in Kiev, ILGA-Europe expresses its severe concerns about the passing of law amendments in the Committee on Freedom of Expression and Information of the Ukrainian Parliament.

Last Wednesday the Committee recommended to the Parliament of Ukraine to adopt a bill (law initiative # 8711), that would effectively limit the freedom of speech of mass media and criminalise LGBT human rights work in Ukraine.

The bill would amend existing laws on ‘the protection of morals’, media and publishing, as well as the criminal code. The Parliament now has to take a position on the draft law, resulting in a vote possibly as soon as next week. If adopted, then the law would result in a situation that virtually all information about homosexuality and bisexuality will be banned. This includes awareness raising activities of human rights organisations, but also information articles about homosexuality in mass media. Such activities would become criminal and thus punishable by steep fines or imprisonment up to five years.

Björn van Roozendaal, ILGA-Europe Programmes Director, said: “Not only this law is in clear contradiction with non-discrimination principles and the right to freedom of expression and information. Reasoning of such laws is sadly based on myths rather than facts. Drafters of such laws falsely assume that the work of human rights defenders is threatening religions and children. In addition the position that human rights defenders and media would ‘promote homosexuality’ is wrong and holds not truth. It just stigmatises the community and undermines human rights standards.”

ILGA-Europe is distressed by these proposed law amendments which in effect would institutionalise discrimination and reinforce stigmatisation of homosexuality and bisexuality. Not only would such law be a threat to the LGBTI community. Making use of the legally unclear concept of ‘propaganda’ could lead to the risk of discretionary prosecution. This for example might mean that a journalist writing about violence against LGBTI people would be sanctioned. But it might also mean that a street vendor selling an international newspaper covering a story on LGBTI rights would be fined or arrested. In addition, the draft law seriously undermines the right to education and can have detrimental effects to young people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual as they would no longer be able to receive information and support.

Björn van Roozendaal adds: “We call on the Ukrainian parliament to uphold the democratic values of the freedom of speech and protect human rights by voting down this draft law. We call on the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations to boldly condemn this legislative initiative.”

The original law amendments can be found here: http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb_n/webproc4_1?id=&pf3511=40734