The Ukrainian Parliament
The European Union has condemned the continued progress of a bill that will restrict the distribution of and access to information about homosexuality in the Ukraine.
On Tuesday, the controversial bill passed the first of two readings in parliament as anti-gay MPs worked to fast-track the law.
The bill aims to ban the “promotion of homosexuality”, although it fails to define what “promotion of homosexuality” actually means.
The draft law’s authors claim that the media is “promoting a tolerant attitude towards things like sexual relations between people of the same sex.”
They further state that “the spread of homosexuality constitutes a threat to national security as it leads to an HIV/AIDS epidemic and also destroys the institute of family and can trigger a demographic crisis”.
Under the bill, anyone convicted of importing, producing or spreading “works that promote homosexuality,” citing examples such as the film Brokeback Mountain, could receive jail terms of up to five years.
LGBT activists say that if the law is passed it could be used to stop them from holding any kind of gay events and will restrict the discussion and positive representation of homosexuality in the media.
A spokesperson for the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Peter Stano, issued a statement saying that “it is deeply disappointing that this matter has been brought up again.
“Such a legislative initiative would further stigmatise the LGBT community, and put an additional strain on the principle of non-discrimination and the situation of freedom of expression, freedom of media, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly.”
Stano added that “[the bill is] in contradiction with the norms and values that are promoted and defended by the EU and its member states both internally and internationally”.
The next vote on the bill could come up as early as next week. An online petition has been launched calling on the Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament Volodymyr Lytvyn, who has the power to stop the bill, to refuse to sign it. A few weeks ago Lytvyn raised concerns about the proposed law because of the international outcry against it.
In May, the first-ever Pride parade in the Ukrainian capital Kiev was cancelled after LGBT activists were brutally beaten and gassed by a group of ultra-right football hooligans just 30 minutes before the start of the march.