A bill to protect gay Ukrainian workers from discrimination based on their sexual orientation has been dropped by the country’s parliament, as hundreds of anti-gay protesters gathered to demonstrate against it.
Ukraine’s Parliament postponed the measure indefinitely. It had been backed by the European Union, and was up for a vote on Tuesday.
The law was part of a strong bid by President Viktor Yanukovych’s government to get the country’s laws in line with others in the EU, in order to eventually join it.
Around 300 anti-gay activists gathered in Kiev, to protest against the bill, which was also opposed in parliament by the Communist Party, and the nationalist Svoboda group, which is largely supported in strongly Catholic regions.
The vote on the bill was dropped, as deputies said they wanted to avoid more volatile exchanges in the notoriously heated chamber.
Banners held by the protesters read: “In defence of family and children,” and: “No to homosexuality in Ukraine”. The protesters were also demonstrating against plans by gay rights advocates, to hold a gay pride parade on 25 May.
A similar rally took place outside the Kiev Mayor’s office, demanding that the parade be scrapped.
Following the rally, they passed on an 11,000-strong petition in support of their claims.
The Ukrainian foreign minister, Leonid Kozhara, promised in February that the country would soon ban all anti-gay discrimination in an interview with a Polish newspaper.
Ukraine is currently governed by the Party of Regions political party who is strongly pro-Russia. Russia is currently passing laws which restrict the freedoms of LGBT citizens, something that the Ukrainian Parliament also examined.
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.
Joseph Patrick McCormick