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60,000 sign petition against Ukraine anti-gay gag law

Activists call on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to stand up for LGBT rights ahead of EU delegation
Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych

A petition signed by over 60,000 people, calling on the Ukrainian president to denounce an anti-gay 'propaganda' bill, will appear in one of Kyiv's biggest newspapers on Friday (1 June).

The online letter by gay rights group AllOut.org, which will be published as a full page advert in the Kyiv Post, urges President Viktor Yanukovych to speak out against the proposed bill and stand up for LGBT rights before he meets with an EU human rights delegation tomorrow.

The bill, similar to the one passed in St Petersburg, is expected to be voted on this week and would amend existing laws on ‘the protection of morals’, media and publishing, as well as the criminal code, effectively banning virtually all information on gay and bisexual issues and criminalizing LGBT human rights work in Ukraine.

The capital's first ever gay pride parade was cancelled on 20 May after a threat of violence from right-wing football hooligans and the event's organizer Svyatoslav Sheremet was later beaten by thugs.

The Ukraine is due to host the Euro 2012 football championship games and key European countries such as France and Germany, as well as the European Commission, have threatened to boycott the games if the country does not clean up its act on human rights.

A Ukrainian activist, who asked not to be identified for his own personal safety, said: 'In this society where homosexuality remains a silenced topic, the scarce attempts by activists and researchers to make the LGBT community a visible and recognized participant of the public debate are crucial for eliminating inequality.

'The proposed bill nullifies this work and gives homophobes a unique instrument for bullying and discrimination.'

Andre Banks, executive director of AllOut.org, said President Viktor Yanukovych must take action now before 'an entire generation will be forced into the shadows'.

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