Ukraine gives initial approval to anti-gay law

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Human rights campaigners have criticised Ukraine after the country’s parliament passed a draft LGBT censorship law.

The bill envisages prison terms of up to five years for spreading “propaganda of homosexuality”.

A second vote is now scheduled for later this month.

Lance Price, the executive director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, an international gay rights organisation based in London, has written an open letter to the chair of Ukraine’s parliament, Volodymyr Lytvyn.

In the letter Mr Price talks of meeting with gay rights campaigners during a visit to the country with Sir Elton John – who is also a Kaleidoscope supporter – in July of this year.

Mr Price urges Mr Lytvyn to “listen to your own citizens, all of whom deserve equal protection for their basic rights of expression, assembly and equality before the law”.

Mr Price also suggests that implementing the bill would be in breach of international law and cites Articles 10 and 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights – along with Protocol 12 that includes a provision against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

“By restricting the publication and dissemination of materials related to sexual orientation and gender identity, this bill would severely restrict access to information about health, support networks, and social activities for countless young people,” Mr Price concludes.

President Viktor Yanukovych has refused to say whether he will sign the bill into law.

Lawmakers appear to be following the anti-gay political agenda of neighbouring Russia, which has introduced homophobic censorship laws, most notably in its second largest city of St Petersburg this year.