CONGRESS 15 | Rep. Eric Swalwell’s first chance to grandstand did not take place in the East Bay, but in faraway Ukraine.
Swalwell, along with Reps. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), David Cicilline and over three dozen Democrats sent a letter to the Ukrainian parliament protesting two discriminatory pieces of legislation against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Eastern European country.
The bills would make “propaganda” concerning same-sex relations punishable to fines and up to six years in prison. The proposed law is similar to a controversial bill in Russia that has already threatened to put a damper on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Some LGBT athletes are expressing concern over facing retribution for expressing their sexual identities during the games.
“Ukraine in recent decades has made significant strides and commitments to human rights, but these bills threaten to create an environment that condones state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people,” said Swalwell. “This is a clear violation of the fundamental freedoms that both of our countries respect and I urge the parliament to reject both of these bills.”
In the letter to the Ukrainian parliament, also co-signed by Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee, the representatives say the proposed restrictions will threaten the health of the citizenry when it comes to information regarding sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and AIDS.
“We are deeply troubled that these bills would lead to violations of fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression that both of our countries value,” says the letter, “and that are central to accepted understandings of what constitutes a strong and vibrant society.”