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Monday, 4 July 2011

'Section 28' type laws spreading in Eastern Europe

Former British Prime Minister Margaret ThatcherImage via Wikipedia
By Paul Canning

In 1988 Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government included a clause in a local government bill which said that a local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship". This became known as 'Section 28', made teachers afraid of mentioning homosexuality in any context in schools and it wasn't repealed until 2003.

Now 'Section 28' type laws are coming back - in Eastern Europe.

Lithuania in 2009 pass a law to 'protect minors' banning "propaganda of homosexual, bisexual or polygamous relations". After an outcry from its fellow European Union members this was amended to a "ban to spread information that would promote sexual relations or other conceptions of concluding a marriage or creating a family other than established in the Constitution or the Civil Code" and a ban on information that "profanes family values". The Lithuanian government claimed it wasn't discriminatory but since coming into effect the law has only been used once and that is to try to ban the Vilnius Gay Pride in 2010.

Russia now has two regions with similar laws following the passage of a law in the Arkhangelsk region last week. The other one is Ryazan.

A group of local community and religious organizations calling themselves the "scientific community" of the region pushed the necessity of banning the "promotion of homosexuality". They argued that since only 1% of people are biologicaly born homosexual the rest must somehow catch it through being 'influenced by the society'.

Activists have already challenged the Ryazan law in the European Court of Human Rights after the Russian Constitution Court denied that the law contradict with the Constitution's freedom of expression provisions. But even if the European Court condemns the law it is likely to be added to the pile of rulings against them then ignored by Russia.

Now members of the Ukrainian Parliament have introduced legislation "On Introduction of Changes to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine (regarding protection of children rights on the safe information sphere)”. This would establish a criminal liability for "propaganda of homosexualizm".

Those introducing it say it's needed because:
"The spread of homosexualizm is a threat to national security, as it leads to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS and destroys the institution of family and can cause a demographic crisis."
This new law goes even further than the others - it establishes a 'liability for distribution of products that promote homosexualizm.'

So no exports of 'Glee' or rainbow earrings to Ukraine then. And surely the Eurovision Song Contest would have to be censored?

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