A protestor is arrested in St. Petersburg under the
city’s “homosexual propaganda” law. (Pic: GayRussia)

As homo-prejudice spreads across Eastern Europe, the European Parliament has condemned laws that limit LGBT people’s right to freedom of expression in a resolution adopted by a clear majority on Thursday.

The parliament condemned homophobic laws and violence in European countries, and called on EU member states to consider giving access to cohabitation, registered partnerships or marriage to LGBT people.

Notably, the resolution called on European countries, whether or not they are EU member states, including Russia, Ukraine and Moldova, to ensure that LGBT people are protected from homophobic hate speech and violence, and that same-sex partners enjoy the same respect as the rest of society.

The parliament specifically singled out a number of laws and bills passed or currently being examined in six countries: Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary.

A number of these laws, often under the guise of protecting minors from “homosexual propaganda”, restrict freedom of expression and speech and ban LGBT events, including Pride marches.

The parliament said that it regretted that “laws of this kind are already used to arrest and fine citizens, including heterosexual citizens, who express support, tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people.” These laws “legitimise homophobia and, sometimes, violence”, it added.

The parliament highlighted cases of homophobic violence and threats in the cities of St. Petersburg and Kiev in May and noted that EU agreements with third countries are conditional upon their respect for fundamental human rights.

Michael Cashman MEP, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said: ‘Homophobia, lesbophobia and transphobia are still a cruel reality for too many in Europe.”

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