Kiev, June 19, 2020
In a vote of 13-7 on Wednesday, June 17, the Ukrainian Parliament’s Law Enforcement Committee rejected gender-based bills that criminalize pro-family actions and criticism of LGBT people.
According to the committee members, the relevant bills require significant revision, reports the Institute for Religious Freedom.
Committee Chairman Denis Monastirsky stressed that they have received hundreds of appeals from representatives of all faiths in Ukraine who have serious concerns about the proposed changes to the Ukrainian criminal code.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has spoken against the bills. On May 5, His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Rovenki and Sverdlovsk, the head of the UOC’s Synodal Department for Family Affairs commented on the draft laws, explaining that they would allow any action in defense of family values or sermons about the sin of homosexuality to be interpreted as a call for intolerance.
“The Church always defends the dignity of man, first of all, as the image of God, even if this image is marred by sins,” the bishop stressed. However, “The moment the Church is silent and stops denouncing sin, It will no longer be the Church,” he added.
58 People’s Deputies from different Parliamentary factions also asked the Committee to take the appeals from churches into account, fearing that such changes could lead to criminal prosecution of participants in peaceful protest actions against gender ideology and in favor of protecting family values and natural sexual relations.
On the eve of the meeting, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations also sent its comments to the Committee, opposing the introduction of gender ideology in Ukrainian legislation, emphasizing that increasing criminal liability for crimes if someone has “prejudices or stereotypical views” could become the basis for restricting the constitutional right of citizens to freedom of thought and expression.
The final fate of the relevant bills depends on the Verkhovna Rada, which can either exclude the gender bills from the agenda of any future sessions without consideration, or reject them during the first reading.