14 March 2012, 17:25
EU slams clampdown on sexual minorities in Moldova
Chisinau, March 14, Interfax - The European Union has condemned bans by regional authorities in Moldova on public actions by members of sexual minorities.
Sexual orientation cannot be a reason for limiting freedom of expression, freedom of assembly or association or any other fundamental rights, the EU said in a statement released by its mission in Moldova.
The anti-sexual minority moves in Moldova mean a departure from international human rights standards and commitments made by the country in joining the Council of Europe and in signing the United Nations' International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Union said.
On February 23, the municipal council of Balti, Moldova's second largest city after the capital Chisinau, banned any public actions by members of sexual minorities, declaring the city "a zone free from homosexual propaganda."
The ban was a response to a planned law on non-discrimination, which "the government is trying to force" on the nation. Several other local administrations followed what is known as the country's "northern capital" in imposing similar bans.
The minister of foreign affairs and European integration, Iurie Leanca, said the bill took account of "recommendations from our foreign partners" and that "it meets all European standards."
"The draft law on non-discrimination, which Moldova has pledged to pass under an agreement with the EU, will be amended in order to avoid any further conflicts, and only then will it be put before parliament," Leanca said.
Meanwhile, Moldova's Orthodox Church railed on Wednesday at a report early this month in which the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, expressed concern over the Orthodox Church's allegedly privileged status and claimed that other religious communities have restricted rights.
The secretary of the Moldovan metropolitan's see, Archpriest Vadim Cheibas, told a briefing that the Orthodox Church "cannot be put in the same category with the other religious cults in Moldova."
"The metropolitan considers the statements of the UN official to be intolerable and sees the recommendations for legislative changes for facilitating the penetration of various cults into Moldova as a direct attack on the Orthodox Church," the priest.
"The Church must not obey if the state takes measures that run against its teachings," he said.
He expressed support for Balti's homosexual propaganda ban. "It wouldn't too be bad if the Chisinau government made a similar move," he said.