Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted in the first reading for the bill on amendments to some legislative acts (to protect children’s rights to secure information space). The bill was supported by the votes of 289 MPs out of 350 registered in the parliament.
The authors of the bill – deputies Yevhen Tsarkov (faction of the Communist Party of Ukraine), Kateryna Lukianova (NUNS faction), Pavlo Unhurian (BYuT-Fartherland faction), Yulia Kovalevska (Party of Regions faction), Taras Chornovil (independent), and Lilia Hryhorovych (NUNS faction) suggest to introduce the responsibility for actions that promote sexual relations between individuals of the same sex, abuse of the freedom of printed media, or the use of television and radio organizations for homosexuality propaganda. Moreover, they also suggest adding to the article of the Criminal Code on penalties for import, manufacturing, or distribution of publications that promote violence and cruelty, racial and ethnic or religious intolerance and discrimination, a part about homosexuality.
European human rights organizations are concerned about the approval of the bill. International commission of lawyers and human rights organization ILGA-Europe claim that this bill is not compatible with international human rights. They urged Ukrainian parliament to revoke the law of the agenda and appealed to the president to speak against it, because the approval of the new law would violate the rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and association. And it is not just about discrimination of LGBT community, but about much deeper social phenomena – curtailment of rights and freedoms in Ukraine.
The fact that the law does not clearly define the term “propaganda of homosexualism” is also alerting. It means that such law can be used against certain media. This has been indicated by Ukrainian lawyers, who compare this bill with the law on slander.
Both experts and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine say that this bill will significantly blemish the international image of Ukraine and can have more tangible consequences. “Ensuring the rights of minorities is one of the basic principles of the EU. We hope that this law will be adopted taking into account all the international obligations of Ukraine,” said Oleh Voloshyn, director of the Department of Foreign Ministry of Ukraine for Information Policy.
Tetiana MAZUR, executive director of Amnesty International in Ukraine:
“Over the past two weeks it is already the second time that the parliament initiates legislation that could potentially violate human rights. Specifically, the bill No. 8711, which was passed in the first reading, is absolutely contrary to the obligations of Ukraine, which it took over in the various European and international agreements on human rights. These agreements deal with protection of citizens’ rights to freedom from discrimination, including that based on sexual orientation and gender, to equality before law, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. We also see a violation of children’s rights in this bill. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children, as well as adults, have the right to seek, receive, and impart information of any kind. And this bill will limit this right. It also violates a number of international obligations of Ukraine, in particular, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It also runs counter to the recommendations of the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Committee on Human Rights.
“Our parliament should decide whether it is still focused on European values, including human rights, or it has some other motivation, approving this bill.
“What consequences will adoption of this law mean for Ukraine? Firstly, it will have a bad impact on the international image of Ukraine and our country has certain aspirations to join the EU. There is also a desire of Ukrainian citizens to travel to Europe without visas, and, in my opinion, this bill would exclude the possibility of introducing visa-free regime. Besides, it violates the Convention on Human Rights, and therefore there will be appeals to the European Court of Human Rights. If the law suits will be ruled against Ukraine it will have to pay compensations to those, who sued it. And those compensations will be paid from the state budget. This issue is much broader than just a factor of image formation.”