European Parliament relaxes visa restrictions on Ukraine despite looming anti-gay bill

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Efforts to halt the European Parliament’s decision to relax visa restrictions on Ukraine, due to the country’s support for homophobic legislation have failed.

Since 2011, the Ukrainian Parliament has been examining two draft laws making it illegal to say homosexuality is normal, or supporting LGBT people in any way.

It is feared the laws are close to being adopted.

Human rights organisations had called on the European Parliament to suspend plans for easier EU visa rules for Ukrainian citizens as a response to the country’s anti-gay agenda.

However, on Thursday, the European Parliament gave its binding consent for the new measures.

The vice president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights expressed her disappointment at the decision.

“We cannot deepen our relationship with a country that enacts witch-hunting laws against its minorities,” Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld said.

“The mere presence of these bills on their parliament’s agenda has already justified an increase in homophobic violence.”

In a 2007 poll 5.7% of Ukrainians said that “gay lifestyles” were acceptable and only 4.7% of Ukrainians stated that they thought same-sex marriage in the country was a priority.