Lawmakers in the Ukraine are pressing ahead with legislation to ban the “promotion” of homosexuality under the guise of protecting children’s rights.
The legislation, which was first announced in late June, has the support of deputies from across party lines, including key members of the ruling coalition as well as opposition forces.
Claiming the spread of homosexuality is undermining the institution of the family and reportedly suggesting that homosexuality is a threat to national security, lawmakers propose amending the country’s criminal code and laws dealing with public morality, print media, television and radio and publishing, to ban the “propaganda of homosexualism” so as to ensure the “protection of children’s rights in the safe information sphere.”
The bill would also serve to ban the import, manufacture or distribution of items relating to the promotion of homosexuality, as well as items deemed violent, or that promote racial, ethnic or religious intolerance or discrimination.
The RT writes that if the draft law is approved in its current form it would lead to a fine equivalent to $620 or three to five years in jail.
Human rights organizations in the Ukraine have vociferously opposed the move, with a spokesperson from Ukraine LGBT group Insight reportedly saying, “[The measure] is absolutely discriminatory. The bill strengthens censorship, restricts freedom of speech, which is the basis of mass media, and legalizes violence against homosexual people.”
The Ukraine decriminalized homosexuality in 1991. While constitutional guarantees protect specific classes of people, LGBTs are not explicitly mentioned and the courts have largely avoided a direct ruling to suggest that human rights guarantees should apply in cases concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. Further to this, marriage is defined as a one man, one woman institution and same-sex couples are explicitly banned from jointly adopting Clause 211 of Family Code of Ukraine. There are currently no anti-discrimination laws in the country.
The proposal to ban so-called promotion of homosexuality for the sake of the country’s children would seem to mirror a law brought into force a few years ago in Lithuania which served the exact same purpose and used similar language. Lithuania was heavily criticized by other EU memberstates given how overreaching the law was deemed to be.
The Ukraine’s move to further stigmatize its LGBT citizens may be viewed even more poorly given that the Ukraine together with Poland will host the final tournament of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship. This decision, made in April 18, 2007, was supposed to give the Ukraine a chance to show off what the country has to offer. One wonders if extreme censorship and anti-LGBT prejudice are to be part of that package?