MEPs support ‘free speech’ after Kiev pride violence

Members of the European Parliament are concerned about the number of gay pride marches being cancelled or banned across Europe due to homophobic violence or laws criminalising public support for LGBT rights.

They will hold a debate tomorrow with particular focus on these laws, in an attempt to target homophobia in Europe and beyond.

This debate comes just two days after the Kiev pride march was called off just 30 minutes before it was due to begin yesterday morning. Police warned that between 500-1000 far right football hooligans were planning to demonstrate at the event.

Although the event was cancelled, it was not without its casualties – one organiser was sprayed with mace, and another, Svyatoslav Sheremet, was beaten up by a group of youths.

Marije Cornelissen MEP, said it was shameful that the police did not protect those taking part in Kiev’s gay pride march, and spoke out against the government’s decision not to include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination law.

“Ukraine must revoke any homophobic law and commit to making a peaceful march possible next year,” she said.

A number of eastern European countries are planning to adopt laws which, if passed, will publicly forbid support for LGBT rights. These include Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary, and the ban will stretch to anything deemed to be ‘homosexual propoganda’ – this may even be as restrictive as to ban displaying the all-inclusive rainbow flag.

Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup in the European Parliament, Dennis de Jong, said that the bans on publicly promoting or supporting gay rights were a clear breach of universally-agreed human rights.

“The Commission and the External Action Service must take note of these bans and condemn them without hesitation,” he said. “We will work to ensure free speech remains a reality everywhere in Europe, including for LGBT people.”

Madonna is among those publicly declaring her support for the LGBT community on the continent – she pledged to speak out against the anti-gay laws in Russia when she visits as part of her European tour.

Anyone in Russia who is found to be promoting the ‘false perception that traditional and non-traditional relationships are socially equal’ may be fined up to £10,000.

The European Parliament debate can be followed live from 4pm on the European Parliament website, but the resolution will not be voted on until May 24th.

by Mel Spencer
Source – PinkNews