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Moldova secretly adopts anti-gay ‘homosexual propaganda’ law

Moldova secretly adopts anti-gay ‘homosexual propaganda’ law

CHISINAU, Moldova — A new law prohibiting so called “homosexual propaganda,” similar to those recently enacted in Russia, has been adopted away from public scrutiny and entered into force in Moldova, a landlocked country in Eastern Europe located between Romania and the Ukraine.

Politicians avoided debating the bill in public and amended Moldova’s Contravention Code on July 12 to prohibit the “distribution of public information […] aimed at the propagation of prostitution, pedophilia, pornography or of any other relations than those related to marriage or family.”

Offenders could be fined up to 8,000 Leu (about $628 USD), and businesses and non-government organizations could also receive a possible suspension of activities ranging from three months to a year.

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The bill was unusually omitted from a public consultation, and civil society was not informed of its deliberation.

Similar laws exist in Russia (at both federal level as well as in ten regions), Lithuania, and are being debate in Ukraine.

Last month, the European Commission stated that such anti-gay “propaganda” laws breached the European Convention on Human Rights, which is legally binding on Moldova.

In May 2012, the European Parliament had also specifically told Moldova to back away from adopting such legislation.

European lawmakers and human rights advocates sharply criticized Moldova’s adoption of the law.

Monica Macovei Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Co-Chair of the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, reacted: “It is unfortunate that Moldova would adopt a law containing homophobic provisions, especially in secret. I hope the Moldovan judiciary will strike it down, in line with Moldova’s international human rights obligations and the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights.”

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Marije Cornelissen MEP, Member of the European parliamentary LGBT Integroup, added: “This isn’t the Moldova I know, which can be tolerant and accepting. Recently the government made progress by annulling similar regional laws in order to comply with human rights standards.”

“I hope this law will be annulled soon as well. If it isn’t, it could cast a long shadow over Moldova’s visa liberalization process with the EU,” said Cornelissen.

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe advocacy group, sharply criticized Moldova: “We are shocked by such secretive adoption of a law which creates serious limitations to freedom of expression for LGBTI organizations and anyone referring to LGBTI issues and clearly discriminates on the grounds of sexual orientation.

“We call on the Moldovan parliamentarians to urgently strike down this law which directly violates the requirements and conditions of a visa liberalization negotiation between the EU and Moldova.”

He added that if is not done, ILGA-Europe would call for the negotiations to be abolished.

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