Persistently upholding freedom of speech


The Karas Gallery and Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union [UHHRU] have initiated a protest initiative “Uporno” [“Persistently”, “Determinedly”]. Their aim is to convince the President of the need to veto the law introducing amendments to Article 301 of the Criminal Code which impose criminal liability for possession of works, images or other items of a pornographic nature in order to sell or circulate them.

During the press conference on 23 June which launched the campaign, Volodymyr Yavorsky, UHHRU Executive Director stated that the law passed by parliament on 11 June unwarrantedly and disproportionately restricts freedom of expression, and intrudes into the individual’s inner freedom. He stressed that it does not achieve its stated purpose (fulfilling Ukraine’s commitments on criminalizing all activities involved with child pornography], while creating a serious threat of abuse by law enforcement officers who could use the norm of the law to extract bribes or for blackmail.

Les Poderevyansky, one of the participants, suggested that the legislators ban not just depictions of the sexual act, but sexual intercourse itself. Otherwise they are fighting the consequences, and no the root cause.

Artist Oleksandr Roitburd went further and suggested that the officials ban depictions of potential participants in a sexual act. Just in case.

The press conference was followed by the opening of an exhibition of works by Oleksandr Roitburd, Illya Chichkan, Masha Shubina, Stas Volyazlovsky, Illya Isupov and other well-known Ukrainian artists.

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union also sent the President the appeal launched on Saturday to veto the law. At the time it was sent, the appeal had been endorsed by 200 visitors to the UHHRU website.

Marina Hovorukhina

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