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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 20, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 47
Ukraine passes LGBT protections to get free travel to EU, as EU discusses end to open borders
Section One
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Ukraine passes LGBT protections to get free travel to EU, as EU discusses end to open borders

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Ukraine finally passed a law protecting its LGBT residents from discrimination in order to win the right for Ukrainians to travel freely in the EU, but less than a week later, France proposed that the EU scrap its open borders policy.

After six tries, and only two days after voting the bill down, the Ukrainian parliament passed LGBT protections on November 12. Supporters of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko argued that the country had to comply with European human rights standards in order to get the right to visa-free travel in the EU under the Schengen Agreement on open borders.

Unfortunately for Ukraine, that agreement may soon be a thing of the past.

In the wake of a horrific terrorist attack, France proposed on November 16 to scrap the Schengen Agreement as a security measure.

The new Ukrainian law updates the country's Labor Code, to protect a number of groups against discrimination.

It specifically bans workplace discrimination on the basis of 'race, color, political, religious and other beliefs, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic, social and foreign origin, age, health, disability or suspected presence of HIV/AIDS, family and property status, family responsibilities, place of residence, or participation in a strike.'

'The idea is that, if a person is working, we cannot discriminate,' a section of the bill reads.

The EU had made it clear that such a law was a precondition for Ukraine entering the Schengen zone. The Schengen zone was created in 1985. In 1990, the agreement was updated to include the abolition of all border controls among European countries and the adoption of a common single-visa policy.

On November 16, however, the British newspaper The Telegraph revealed that European diplomatic sources told reporters that France wanted to resume border checks, after finding that some of the terrorists who launched deadly attacks in Paris had entered France from other countries.

'The French are going to push hard for everyone else to institute border controls, particularly Belgium, but across the wider Euro area. To all intents and purposes it will be a temporary suspension of Schengen,' one source said.

Claude Moraes, a member of the European Parliament and chair of the Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, said that the French demands would test Schengen 'to the limits,' even if the agreement still technically remained on the books.

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