Ukraine Takes Another Step Back on LGBTI Rights

Last year the world spoke up when Ukrainian lawmakers sought to pass a bill that would criminalize the dissemination of “homosexual propaganda.” Though the bill has been delayed, parliamentarians don’t seem to be backing down. Now they are again taking up the controversial legislation that, if passed, could sentence violators to up to five years in prison.

Ukraine’s proposed propaganda law is a direct violation of the fundamental rights of Ukrainians. The bill’s vague wording does not precisely lay out what constitutes a violation. Would homosexual propaganda refer solely to films and large events, such as parades or rallies, or acts such as holding hands with a partner in public?

The bill still requires an additional reading before it reaches the desk of President Viktor Yanukovych, but so far it has passed in a cross-partisan vote in the Verkhovna Rada, with 289 out of 450 legislators. Perhaps politicians in Kyiv drew inspiration from their Russian neighbors, who recently placed a 100-year ban on gay pride parades in Moscow. In addition, several regions in Russia adopted bills prohibiting the “promotion of homosexuality.”

U.S. leaders must join with their global partners in publicly condemning this bill, and continue to fight for the protection of gay rights worldwide. Ukrainian lawmakers should face a resounding chorus of opposition before the next reading of the bill.

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Published on October 4, 2012

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