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Victory? Ukraine parliament cancels vote on anti-gay law after international outcry

KIEV, Ukraine -- In a last minute move, the Ukrainian parliament cancelled today's scheduled vote on legislation that would ban any Ukrainian citizen from speaking out favorably about gays or lesbians.

Human rights defenders and many European officials condemned the proposed law for its potentially chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression for millions of Ukrainians -- gay and straight. The move to shelve the bill today is seen as a critical victory for its opponents, leaving only a short window in September for it to be reconsidered before the dissolution of the sitting Parliament.

The proposed bill was also condemned during the recent Euro 2012 soccer championship with various athletes and national sports ministers speaking out against the draconian measure.

AllOut.org helped lead a global effort to put pressure on Ukraine.

"More than 120,000 All Out members spoke out against this horrendous legislation and pushed it to the top of Europe’s diplomatic agenda. The message of our growing global movement is simple - everyone should be able to live openly and love who they choose. That call has been echoed by the European diplomatic community who played a critical role in blocking the progress of the gay gag law,” said Andre Banks, co-founder and executive director of AllOut.org.

“Above all, this is a victory for our partners in Ukraine. Together we are sending a strong message to the other governments of Eastern Europe. Support for anti-gay laws embolden extremists at the expense of lucrative European ambitions."

On Thursday, AllOut.org, a global movement to dramatically accelerate the move toward full equality for LGBT people all over the world, delivered its petition with 120,000 signers to Ukrainian authorities at the European Union and Council of Europe.

Thousands of All Out members also made direct phone calls to their Foreign Office pushing for action against Law 8711.

Key European governments, the European Parliament and Sir Elton John eventually denounced the law (number 8711), with the governments of Ireland and Argentina issuing statements as late as Thursday.

Law 8711 would make it illegal to "spread homosexuality" by "holding meetings, parades, actions, demonstrations and mass events aiming at intentional distribution of any positive information about homosexuality" and imposes penalties of fines and up to five years imprisonment.

The law, modeled after similar ones passed in several Russian cities, is a grave attack on the freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly for all Ukrainians -- gay and straight. Fines and even time in prison would apply to a journalist who publishes a positive article about a gay person, a writer who features a lesbian character on TV or a teacher who publicly supports human rights for gay people in the classroom.

Human rights activists in Ukraine have this week noted that "The authorities are increasingly worried about the so-called decline of morality in society, but (the anti-gay law) only diverts attention from pressing problems of social insecurity of the population of Ukraine. Instead of solving real problems they trying to find a "common enemy" in the state."

Find an up-to-date petition with personal comments HERE.

About All Out

AllOut.org is a global movement for love and equality. 1,000,000 strong and in every country, All Out is building a world where every person can live openly and love who they choose.