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Europe backs ban on visa-free travel if Ukraine passes anti-gay law

Europe backs ban on visa-free travel if Ukraine passes anti-gay law

The European Commission has confirmed it may punish Ukraine for voting for an anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law by not allowing it visa-free access to member countries.

The Ukrainian Parliament pushed forward the bill, number 8711, with a landslide vote in October.

If it is passed, the new legislation would give up to five years jail to people importing, producing or spreading positive messages about lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

Netherlands foreign affairs minister Uri Rosenthal joined other European Members of Parliament in calling for an EU travel ban.

His threat was significant because all European foreign ministers have to agree to visa changes. So just his one vote could push the visa liberalization off the agenda.

Now the European Commission has confirmed that Rosenthal’s suggestion might be a possibility.

European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Å tefan Füle, said: ‘The EU has expressed deep disappointment and concern that the Parliament of Ukraine has decided to revert to discussing the draft law 8711.

‘Such legislative initiative stands in contradiction to the requirements of the relevant benchmarks of the [EU-Ukraine Visa Liberalization] Action Plan.’

The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently ruled that such laws were incompatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Ukraine ratified.

The European Parliament will vote on a resolution on Ukraine next week in Strasbourg.