Elton John criticises Ukraine’s ‘tragic’ anti-gay draft law

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

Sir Elton John has said it is ‘tragic’ that Ukraine is currently considering laws which would severely curtail the freedom to discuss homosexuality in the country.

Writing in the Guardian after appearing at an AIDS benefit concert in Kiev, the musician said Ukraine had “waited so long for its own freedom”, but was now threatening the freedoms of gay people to take part in a parade or openly discuss homosexuality.

Sir Elton said yesterday they were a “direct and intentional attack on the human rights of LGBT people”.

Draft law 8711 would make discussing gay rights positively in the media or at events a criminal offence.

Sir Elton met with met Svyatoslav Sheremet an organiser of a gay pride march in Kiev who was beaten by a group of men after anti-gay reprisals meant the event was cancelled.

He discussed St Petersburg’s recently-adopted laws forbidding the promotion of homosexuality among minors, writing: “How tragic that Ukraine, which suffered under Russian domination for so long, should now be following suit.

“In 1991, Ukraine became the first former Soviet republic to decriminalise homosexuality. Twenty years later, it is among the first to threaten to imprison gay people again.

“If that wasn’t bad enough, HIV charities – including my own Elton John Aids Foundation – are convinced the new law would make it harder to get safe-sex advice to the young people who need it most. The UN says the failure to protect LGBT rights is one reason why the HIV epidemic is advancing in Ukraine.”

Sir Elton wrote that while Britain’s Section 28, “legalised prejudice”, took years to repeal, the laws in Eastern Europe would now “go much further”.

He discussed the Kaleidoscope Trust’s campaign – “What if it were illegal for you to be you?, saying: “Imagine if it were illegal to have blue eyes, or be under 5ft 10ins, and if breaking this law meant you could go to prison, or face attack or even death.

“In Ukraine and elsewhere, gay people don’t have to imagine it. They already face the very real prospect of being criminalised for their sexuality.”

Sir Elton had appeared at the Elena Pinchuk Foundation for AIDS Awareness concert during the Euro 2012 celebrations.

During the concert itself he told the audience: “Recently I read about violence against gay people in Ukraine. Beating up gay people is wrong. This for me does not symbolise Ukraine.”

“I plead with you. Stop the violence against gay people.”

The Ukrainian draft law is due to be read in the parliament for a third and final time this week.

Taras Karasiichuk, chairman of the organising committee for Kiev Pride said: “If the proposed law 8711 is passed it would be illegal for Elton John to stand on a stage and speak up for gay rights.

“This legislation would deprive LGBT people of the human rights that everybody should be entitled to. It would leave us open to more violence and attacks.”