Ukraine Backs Off Gay-Gag Law (For Now)
Lawmakers in the Ukraine this week failed to vote on a controversial law that would have banned mention of LGBT identity in public.
Law 8711, largely unchanged from when it was proposed last June, would make it illegal to engage in the so-called spreading of homosexuality by “holding meetings, parades, actions, demonstrations and mass events aiming at intentional distribution of any positive information about homosexuality.”
It likens the ”propaganda of homosexualism” to a national security threat and says a ban is necessary so as to ensure the “protection of children’s rights in the safe information sphere.”
Like its Russian counterparts, the law is so overreaching it would apply to journalists, teachers, and many in the entertainment industry.
The penalty for breaking the law would be a steep fine or even up to five years in prison.
The proposed law has been widely condemned by European officials who have noted its chilling threat to freedom of speech and assembly. It is unclear exactly why the Ukraine’s lawmakers chose not to take up the measure for its expected Friday vote, though international attention would certainly seem a likely explanation.
While activists have celebrated the fact that the vote was abandoned this time around, there remains a brief window of danger in September when Ukraine’s lawmakers could still take up the legislation.
Ukraine is currently attempting to join the European Union. The EU’s human rights standards would expressly clash with Law 8711, but other nations having enacted similar bans without much censor.
Russia’s various regional laws banning the so-called promotion of homosexuality, while having been widely condemned, have been relatively low on the EU’s agenda, and even the threat of a national law has drawn only the standard condemnations.
Similarly, Lithuania brought a similar law into force a few years ago. While memberstates had protested its rights abuses at the time, since then little action has been taken.