Moldova: Bill to sanction press for “promoting” homosexuality

A group of deputies from the SPRM (the Socialist Party of Republic of Moldovacame with a legislative initiative that establishes sanctions for the propaganda of homosexuality among minors through the press, Internet, audio-video spots etc. Media experts and journalists say that this bill brings prejudice to the community of LGBT, it is contrary to the Law regarding the ensurance of equality and doesn’t respect the standards of UN.

The bill’s authors want to complete the Contravention Code with the original article 88 which contains the following stipulations: “The propaganda of homosexual relationships among minors through meetings, press, Internet, brochures, folding sheets, images, audio-video spots, films and /or audio-video recordings, audio recordings, amplifiers or other means of amplifying the sound  is fined from 200 to 300 contraventional units for an individual, the legal entity is fined from 300 to 500 contravenional units.”

Asked by Media Azi, if he doesn’t believe that the initiative violates the Law regarding the ensurance of equality and threatens the freedom of expression, Andrian Lebedinschi, one of the authors, declared: “Through this bill we try to reduce the phenomenon of homosexuality, especially among the youth. We don’t refer  to the adults here. As to the press, it also has some obligations as well as freedom and rights. The freedom of press ends when the human rights are violated. These have to be a priority.”  The parliament talked about the way how to punish the media institutions: “The Department of Criminal Investigation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs will examine this case. They will document it and will apply sanctions according to the legal provisions.”

At his turn the president of the Parliamentary Committee for culture, education, research, youth, sports and mass-media, Valdimir Hotineanu, who has a positive opinion on the bill, considers that it is welcome ” as long as each individual has minor relatives and most probably tries to avoid the messages that disseminate homosexuality. “We can’t allow this phenomenon to spread . We can’t accept this thing. If the advertising and promotion of smoking and alcohol was banned on TV, why don’t we ban such spots too?” Vladimir Hotineanu said.

The journalists and the media experts don’t share the opinions of the bill’s authors. Lilia Zaharia, API reporter, doesn’t believe that this legislative initiative will be voted by the deputies because this will be considered discrimination against the community of LGBT. “The journalists, that have as protagonists people from this sexual minority in their materials, don’t make propaganda in order to promote the ideas of this community, but tell the story of a person who was or wasn’t discriminated because he is a member or supports this community. And I don’t believe that the journalists or the media institutions could be sanctioned because such a story was told,” Lilia Zaharia commented.

At the same time the expert attracted the attention of the deputies that the Law regarding the ensurance of equality, adopted in 2012, has as an aim the fight against the discrimination as well as the ensurance of equality of all the people that live in the Republic of Moldova, ”regardless the political, social, economical affiliation, without making any distinction as to the race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion or beliefs, sex, age, disability, opinion or any other similar criterion”.

The director of the ”Ziarul de Gardă”, Alina Radu, considers that ‘The punishment of media institutions for placing products which include the rights of all people is contrary to the media legislation, other national and international laws. Mass-media has the obligation to inform and discuss about the rights of all the categories of citizens‘.

The journalist also reminds the bill’s authors that the Republic of Moldova is a member of UN. ”These days, the Government prepares the report for the second Universal Periodic Evaluation. In the case of the first evaluation, in 2012, Moldova assumed more obligations regarding the rights of LGBT which it didn’t meet. The socialists ask Moldova to have a legislation that is contrary to the UN standards. Why do the socialists so often refer to the human rights consecrated by the community of UN if they violate them or accept them selectively?” Alina Radu asks herself.

The bill was registered in the parliament on 28 April 2016. This was signed by the deputies Grigore Novac, Vasile Bolea, Sergiu Furculita, Radu Mudreac, Adrian Lebedinschi and Vlad Batrincea and has a positive opinion from the Parliamentary Committee for agriculture and food industry and Committee for culture, education, research, youth, sports and mass-media.

The article was originally published by the Independent Journalism Center (Chisinau)