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Ukraine’s Parliament Backs Away From Controversial ’Gay Gag Rule’

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Jul 10, 2012
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Last week, members of Ukraine’s Parliament did not vote on a controversial law that would make it illegal for people to talk about LGBT issues in public, All Out reported.

Law 8711, also known as the "gay gag rule," would prohibit the "spread homosexuality" by "holding meetings, parades, actions, demonstrations and mass events aiming at intentional distribution of any positive information about homosexuality."

"In a last minute move, the Ukrainian parliament cancelled today’s scheduled vote on legislation that would ban any Ukrainian citizen from speaking out favorably about gays or lesbians," All Out said in a statement.

"More than 120,000 All Out members spoke out against this horrendous legislation and pushed it to the top of Europe’s diplomatic agenda. The message of our growing global movement is simple - everyone should be able to live openly and love who they choose," said Andre Banks, co-founder and executive director of AllOut.org.

"That call has been echoed by the European diplomatic community who played a critical role in blocking the progress of the gay gag law, Above all, this is a victory for our partners in Ukraine," he said. "Together we are sending a strong message to the other governments of Eastern Europe. Support for anti-gay laws emboldens extremists at the expense of lucrative European ambitions."

The Ukraine is located in Far Eastern Europe and borders Russia, with which it has a long and tortured history. It was one of the Soviet Socialist Republics under Russia’s thumb until the breakdown of the Soviet Union.

The Ukraine offers very few legal rights for LGBT citizens. Currently, the conservative mainly Orthodox Christian country does not recognize same-sex marriage and does not have any anti-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation or gender identity.

Last week, pop star Sir Elton John criticized the law in an article he wrote for the British newspaper the Guardian.

"Draft law number 8711, due to be debated by the Ukrainian parliament this week, would make it an offence to talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in the media. Even HIV advice to gay men could be banned. Some of the local activists I spoke to believe it would become illegal even to use the word ’gay’ in public," the musician wrote.

The "gay gag rule" is similar to a law in St. Petersburg, Russia. The city recently passed the "homosexual propaganda" bill, which fines individuals up to $17,000 for "the promotion of homosexuality" and "pedophilia among minors." The law defines "homosexual propaganda" as "the targeted and uncontrolled dissemination of generally accessible information capable of harming the health and moral and spiritual development of minors," that could create "a distorted impression" of "marital relations."

On Monday, Russian police broke up attempts to hold two gay rights rallies in St. Petersburg and arrested eight gay activists under the controversial law, the Associated Press notes. This isn’t the first time activists have been arrested under the law, however. In May, 17 gay rights activists were also arrested for participating in a May Day celebration in the city.

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