A new ‘anti-propaganda’ law, similar to those recently enacted in Russia, was discussed and adopted away from public scrutiny and entered into force on 12 July. Politicians specifically sought to avoid debating the bill in public.
Moldova’s Contravention Code now forbids the “distribution of public information [...] aimed at the propagation of prostitution, paedophilia, pornography or of any other relations than those related to marriage or family”.
The Code will punish the above with fines of up to 8,000 Leu (€ 480), and a possible suspension of activities ranging from three months to a year.
Uncharacteristically for Moldova, the bill did not benefit from a public consultation, and civil society wasn’t informed of the discussions.
Similar laws exist in Russia (at the federal level as well as in ten regions), Lithuania, and are debated in Ukraine.
Last month, the European Commission for Democracy through Law explained ‘anti-propaganda laws’ breached the European Convention on Human Rights, which is legally binding on Moldova.
In May 2012, the European Parliament had also specifically told Moldova to back away from adopting such legislation.
Monica Macovei MEP, Co-Chair of the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, reacted: “It is unfortunate that Moldova would adopt a law containing homophobic provisions, especially in secret. I hope the Moldovan judiciary will strike it down, in line with Moldova’s international human rights obligations and the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights.”
Marije Cornelissen MEP, Member of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “This isn’t the Moldova I know, which can be tolerant and accepting. Recently the government made progress by annulling similar regional laws in order to comply with human rights standards.”
“I hope this law will be annulled soon as well. If it isn’t, it could cast a long shadow over Moldova’s visa liberalisation proces with the EU.”
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