EU: Postpone visa facilitation to ensure Ukraine fulfils its commitments first
ILGA-Europe calls on the European Parliament to refer the report on visa facilitation back to the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee for reconsideration and thus postpone the vote.
On 16 April, the European Parliament will debate a resolution on the EU-Ukraine visa facilitation agreement, on which the Parliament will vote the next day. The draft resolution of the European Parliament suggests that the European Parliament supports this agreement.
ILGA-Europe calls on the European Parliament to refer the report on visa facilitation back to the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee for reconsideration and thus postpone the vote. Ukraine should honour the commitments it made to introduce a prohibition on sexual orientation discrimination in employment but that it has yet to fulfil. Moreover, the Ukrainian Parliament is currently debating two separate discriminatory proposals. First is to ban ‘promotion of homosexuality’ which if adopted will seriously undermine the freedom of expression on the grounds of sexual orientation and the second is to introduce a crime of ‘propaganda of same-sex relationship’ punishable by imprisonment. These draft laws go completely against the fundamental principles of the European Union and Ukraine commitments.
Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:
“We support and encourage the visa facilitation agreement between the European Union and Ukraine as we believe it will benefit greater openness and increased opportunities to Ukrainian citizens. But in strengthening relations with the EU, Ukraine needs to show its readiness to fulfil commitments on human rights. Supporting the visa facilitation agreement at this time will send out a wrong political signal. Therefore we encourage the European Parliament to postpone the vote and therefore give Ukraine the opportunity to deliver on the improvement of human rights and to abandon current initiatives which would in effect criminalise the work of LGBTI human rights defenders and seriously limit freedom of expression.”
European Parliament’s Recommendation on the raft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine amending the Agreement between the European Community and Ukraine on the facilitation of the issuance of visas (12282/2012 – C7-0200/2012 – 2012/0138(NLE))
Law 0945 (former Bill 8711) ‘on Amending Some Legislative Acts (protection of children from harmful information)’ was passed by the Ukrainian Parliament in the first reading in October 2012 and is waiting to be voted in the second reading. If adopted, the bill would modify several existing laws in Ukraine, including criminal law, and introduce sanctions for the import, production and distribution of products that would ‘promote’ homosexuality. ‘Promotion of homosexuality’ is itself undefined by this law initiative. If passed in the second reading, it would lead to further marginalisation of the Ukrainian LGBTI community and would limit the work of human rights defenders. In case of new elections in Ukraine, the Bill will automatically pass on to the new Parliament.
Law 1155 ‘on prohibition of propaganda of same-sex relationships’ was proposed by deputy Kolesnichenko from the Party of Regions in December 2012, but this law has not been voted on yet. The draft of the new law is very restrictive and detailed: it provides a clear, very restrictive definition of propaganda: basically any positive statement or action (see below). Sanctions provided are high: it could be a criminal offense and imprisonment could be applied. Article 5 of the draft law states the following prohibited forms of information:
- Rallies, parades, actions, pickets, demonstrations and other mass gatherings
- Training classes, case discussions, interactive games, educational classes, and other activities of educational and developmental nature on the subject of same-sex relationships communicated to children individually and within training events;
- Dissemination by the media of positive information about homosexuals or support in any form of the lifestyle of homosexuals;
- Distribution in preschool and secondary schools of positive information in any form about homosexuality and homosexual lifestyle.