Ukraine moves closer to visa-free EU travel

Ukrainian parliament finally passes EU-brokered bill that bans workplace discrimination against sexual minorities

Ukraine moves closer to visa-free EU travel

World Bulletin / News Desk

Ukraine's parliament Thursday finally banned discrimination against gays in the workplace during a heated session on legislation that could open the door to visa-free travel to much of the EU in 2016.

The controversial bill in the deeply conservative eastern European country had failed on two previous occasions in the past week.

But it mustered the required parliamentary majority after an astonishing six consecutive votes in a raucous morning session.

One constitutional expert said that the entire adoption process seemed illegal but that such manoeuvring was becoming common in the war-scarred and at times seemingly rudderless former Soviet state.

Parliament speaker Volodymyr Groysman told lawmakers after they had collected the required 234 votes in the 450-seat chamber that the change did not alter Ukraine's "traditional values" or offer same-sex marriage rights.

"The main values of any country are people and their rights. I stand with you in favour of family values," Groysman said after the final vote.

"I hear all sorts of fake comments about how Ukraine could now adopt some sort of same-sex marriages. God forbid that this should happen," said the close ally of Western-backed President Petro Poroshenko.

"We would never support that," Groysman stressed.

Poroshenko echoed the parliamentary speaker's comments in a tweet.

"Ukraine is breaking the shackles of its Soviet past," Poroshenko wrote. "And family values -- they are indestructible."

Some experts said it was simply illegally for the speaker to require deputies to keep voting until the government's agenda was met.

"If a draft law is not adopted in the first reading, it is sent for a review and possible revisions, and then voted on again in the subsequent session," Mykola Davydiuk of Kyiv's Politika research centre said.

"But there are about 10 Groysman allies who -- when a piece of legislation they like fails -- simply announce that their voting cards did not work properly," Davydiuk said.

"This had been our practise for a while now."

There was no immediate comment from EU officials about either the bill's adoption or the way it was passed.

Brussels wants Ukraine -- which overthrew its former corrupted leadership last year -- to adopt 13 laws that take a tougher approach on corruption and ensure broader basic rights.

Most have now been adopted. But time is running out because an EU commission will review on December 15 whether Kyiv has done enough to merit visa-free travel by the middle of next year.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Kasım 2015, 09:45