Parliament to consider bills requiring discussion with Churches
The religious community has comments on a range of legislative initiatives that the Verkhovna Rada has planned for consideration this year.
On June 16, 2020, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the Plan of draft laws for the current year, which includes bills requiring discussion with the religious community, reports the Institute for Religious Freedom.
Thus, in September it is planned to consider the draft law "On Military Chaplaincy", which at the legislative level should regulate the status of military chaplains.
It is also expected that the first reading of the draft law "On Media" will be repeated. (№ 2693). The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations hopes that the Working Group, which does not include any representatives of religious organizations, will consider the comments previously submitted by the religious community. In particular, the AUCCRO draws attention to the penalties provided in the draft law "for the dissemination of statements that discriminate against individuals and groups", as such language contains risks threatening the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression.
The Draft Labor Code of Ukraine was also introduced into the Plan as the Government Draft Law No. 2708 was withdrawn after the change of the Government at the beginning of the year. In the previous draft, the specifics of the activities of religious organizations were only partially taken into account, but some of its clauses should be further elaborated.
In addition, the VR is going back to draft law No. 0931 on improving procedures for preventing and combating discrimination in Ukraine. Not only representatives of different faiths, who saw it as a threat to the right to freedom of speech and expression, but also the Public Council under the State Committee of Ukraine for Television and Radio Broadcasting, had serious comments on this bill.
There is also a new initiative to ratify the Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence), the desirability of which has no consensus in Ukrainian society. The AUCCRO previously explained why, instead of ratifying the Convention, national legislation on domestic violence should be developed.
In the near future, the Parliament intends to ratify the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with regard to the use of biology and medicine, which, inter alia, concerns research on embryos in vitro, and the Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Intercountry Adoption.
In addition, this year's draft law Plan contains a number of initiatives in the field of State family policy aimed at supporting families with many children, promoting adoption and replacing children's homes with family forms of upbringing for orphans, supporting responsible fatherhood and defining the basic principles of state youth policy.
The Churches are expected to join the discussion of the Juvenile Justice Act, which envisages the establishment of a restorative justice system for minors, and of amendments to the Family Code to abolish the ban on divorce during pregnancy and immediately after birth if the divorce initiative is due to domestic violence.
Also, this year the Verkhovna Rada plans to adopt a new version of the Law of Ukraine "On Protection of Personal Data". Previously the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches pointed to the shortcomings of the current Law, relating to violations of people's rights to freedom of conscience due to the disclosure of personal data on religious beliefs.
As reported earlier, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations initiates a meeting with the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky to discuss the need for state family policy, issues of combating domestic violence and the problems of commercial surrogacy.