UN human rights office puts pressure on Ukraine regarding LGBT censorship law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The human rights office of the United Nations has urged Ukraine to rethink a draft LGBT censorship law which was announced earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s parliament passed a draft LGBT censorship law, which envisages prison terms of up to five years for spreading “propaganda of homosexuality”, including any positive depiction of LGBT people. A second vote is now scheduled for later this month.

Speaking on behalf of the UN, Rupert Coleville said the bill: “is clearly discriminatory and runs counter to Ukraine’s international commitments to ensure freedom of expression and information,” reports the Washington Post.

The Ukrainian government has come under heavy criticism from the bill, which has been likened to the law during Soviet times, when being gay was illegal.

Lance Price, the executive director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, an international gay rights organisation based in London, wrote 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.

President Viktor Yanukovych had 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.

Back in August, there were proposals in the Ukraine to censor a number of children’s television shows following a study by a conservative commission group who have deemed certain shows “a real threat” to the country’s young, including Spongebob Squarepants, who was labelled “gay”.