43,000 people have so far signed a petition to the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, over a draft amendment to the country’s morality laws.
In a resolution adopted last week, the European Parliament condemned Ukraine’s draft law along with other laws considered or passed already in the EU and neighbouring states, saying member states, of which Ukraine is not yet one, should be “exemplary” on issues of fundamental rights.
Kiev’s first-ever pride march was called off half an hour before it was due to begin on Sunday 20 May, with two organisers left physically injured. An image of Svyatoslav Sheremet being assaulted by youths accompanies the petition.
Amnesty International Ukraine campaigner Max Tucker said it had been “clear from the start that the Kiev police department did not want this march to go ahead.
“Their reluctance to commit to the event and to put adequate security measures in place to protect demonstrators left organisers fearing for their safety.”
The event’s cancellation coincided with a parliamentary committee decision to recommend a draft amendment to the morality laws which would make it illegal to ‘promote homosexuality’ by ‘holding meetings, parades, actions, demonstrations and mass events aiming at intentional distribution of any positive information about homosexuality’.
Amnesty International said the law would “fly in the face of Ukraine’s international obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression and prohibit discrimination”.
AllOut.org used the upcoming visit of an EU delegation on human rights to Ukraine this week as an opportunity to highlight the draft law’s progress through the legislature.
The petition, addressed to President Yanukovych, reads: “We citizens from across the European Union and the world urge you to denounce Law 8711. The arrival of the delegation on Justice and Security from the EU is the time to show that Ukraine takes human rights seriously.
“Ukraine must take a stand against shocking displays of violence such as that perpetuated against Svyatoslav Sheremet.”
Björn van Roozendaal, ILGA-Europe Programmes Director, said: “Not only this law is in clear contradiction with non-discrimination principles and the right to freedom of expression and information. Reasoning of such laws is sadly based on myths rather than facts.
“Drafters of such laws falsely assume that the work of human rights defenders is threatening religions and children. In addition the position that human rights defenders and media would ‘promote homosexuality’ is wrong and holds no truth. It just stigmatises the community and undermines human rights standards.”