“It’s better to have a gay parade … than Russian tanks in the center of the Ukrainian capital,” said a lawmaker urging his colleagues to vote for the bill.
Ukraine has passed a bill protecting GLBT workers from discrimination. Lawmakers had previously rejected the nondiscrimination bill earlier in November, with some lawmakers saying that they feared passage of the bill could led to same sex marriage in Ukraine.
The speaker of parliament assured deputies that the law would not threaten “family values”, saying: “I hear some fake information which says that there may be same-sex marriages in Ukraine. God forbid, this will ever happen. We will never support this.” BBC reports.
The legislation was required by the European Union in order for Ukraine to qualify for a program allowing its citizens to travel throughout the EU without needing visas.
The bill only passed after six rounds of voting on Thursday. After the bill narrowly failed on the the fifth attempt, Speaker Volodymyr Groysman called a recess to lobby for the vote, the Kyiv Post reported, telling lawmakers, “Seven votes stand between us and a visa-free regime.”
Evelyne Paradis, executive director of the European GLBT rights group ILGA-Europe,welcomed the news, but said there was still more work to be done in protecting Ukraine’s GLBT citizens.
“The vote was not just about visa liberalisation, it could be the start of a new chapter of engagement on the rights of GLBT people in Ukraine.”