European Union Calls On Russia, Ukraine To Drop Anti-Gay Laws

The European Parliament adopted two resolutions Thursday calling on Russia and Ukraine to abandon new planned censorship laws that would punish the positive portrayal of LGBT people.

Nine regions in Russia have laws banning “gay propaganda,” that outlaw gay pride parades and stop young people from receiving positive information about being LGBT as well as from fully enjoying dance-pop music — Madonna and Lady Gaga most recently ran afoul of the laws on their respective tours in the country.

Now the ruling United Russia party of President Vladimir Putin is pushing to extend this law nationally, although Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said such a law was unnecessary.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, parliament is drafting a similar gay propaganda ban that would institute fines and up to five years imprisonment for breaking the law.

The resolutions adopted by the EU call for Russia and Ukraine to shelve these laws and underline that the two countries must respect a recent ruling by the UN Human Rights Committee which condemned Russia for limiting freedom of speech in a discriminatory fashion.

“Both Russia and Ukraine signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. No one forced them to, and they must now respect their international obligations,” said Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights. “The European Union will remain strong in its demands, and will continue supporting the activists who bravely defy these unfair laws.”

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup added: “I was in Russia and know that Russian people are open-minded, diverse and accepting. Gay and transgender people aren’t a ‘Western import’, just like classical music, literature and opera aren’t a ‘Russian import’: it’s part of both our cultures, we all do it differently but we all do it. Russian and Ukrainian politicians must stop creating dangers out of thin air, and respect everyone’s right to free speech.”