By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com October 02 2012 2:11 PM ET
Taking a page from neighboring Russia, Ukrainian lawmakers Tuesday approved a bill that would criminalize pro-LGBT speech in the country. The legislation permits a prison sentence up to five years for spreading "propaganda of homosexuality, which is defined as positive public depiction of gays," according to the Associated Press.
The draft law was approved by 289 of 350 lawmakers and would impose heavy fines and potential prison sentences for anyone who speaks out in favor of LGBT people, according to Ria Novosti. According to the Russian news agency, the bill's sponsors claim that "gay propaganda" will lead to the spread of HIV and AIDS in Ukraine.
"By promoting the extreme forms of sexual frivolity, the Ukrainian media is creating the conditions for the spread of the AIDS epidemic in Ukraine," said an explanatory note accompanying the bill, Ria Novosti reports.
The bill still needs to pass a second parliamentary vote scheduled for October 16, and Ukrainian president Viktor Yaukovych has refused to comment on whether or not he will sign the bill into law, according to the AP.
The bill was originally scheduled to come before Parliament in July but was shelved following an international outcry against the legislation.