This statement was originally published on hrw.org on 21 June 2016.
The Moldovan parliament should reject a bill to introduce discriminatory anti-gay “propaganda” clauses in national law, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to lawmakers. The bill is similar to those proposed in other countries in recent years that have been roundly criticized by regional and international human rights bodies.
“Moldovan legislators should put the need to protect people from bias, as well as the country’s constitution, and international law ahead of their personal views,” said Boris Dittrich, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “By rejecting this bill, Moldova can demonstrate to its citizens and international partners that there is no place for prejudice in its laws.”
The draft legislation pending in parliament would amend two national laws. It would add a paragraph to Article 21 of the Law on the Rights of a Child that reads: “The state ensures protection of a child from the propaganda of homosexuality for any purpose and under any form.”
It would also amend Article 88 of the Code of Administrative Offenses to define “propaganda of homosexuality” as: “Propaganda of homosexual relations among minors by means of assemblies, mass media, Internet, brochures, booklets, images, audio-video clips, films and/or audio-video recordings, via sound recording, amplifiers or other means of sound amplification.”
The bill would impose fines for individuals and organizations found in violation, and would be primarily enforced by the police.
The provisions of the bill would violate the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, as well as create an environment of state-promoted discrimination against LGBT people, Human Rights Watch said. This would include discrimination against LGBT children, by restricting their access to information necessary for them to make critical decisions about their lives and health.
Moldova’s parliament has previously amended national laws to include other clauses similar to those currently under debate. In 2013, parliament passed a bill to amend the Code of Administrative Offenses featuring language that activists felt could be interpreted as a prohibition on the dissemination of information about sexual orientation and gender identity, namely: “propagation of any other relations than those related to marriage or family.” Three months after it was passed, in October 2013, parliament annulled the bill, removing the discriminatory clauses.
In May 2016, representatives from Moldova’s Education Ministry attended UNESCO’s inter-ministerial conference in Paris. Moldova was one of 27 countries there to publicly call for an end to school-based violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Rhetoric about ‘protecting children’ around this ill-conceived bill, cynically misuses children’s rights to perpetuate the falsehood that to be gay or lesbian is to be a danger to children,” Dittrich said. “This way of thinking ignores the rights and needs of children themselves, including LGBT children, to access information about themselves – and indeed that positive, affirming information about sexual orientation and gender identity can be life-saving.”