Ukraine Outlaws Pornography, but ‘Medicinal’ Use Is OK

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko signed a law into effect yesterday making possession of pornography a criminal offense.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice, pornography may only be kept “for medical purposes.” Punishment for possession will include fines and up to three years of imprisonment.

The draft of the law was prepared by the Ukrainian government and passed with 343 out of 450 votes by the parliament — the Supreme Rada — on June 11. Previously, Ukrainian law only targeted people who produced or distributed pornography.

Possession, sale and dissemination of pornography is defined by police and courts. Free-speech proponents and human-right activists are protesting the law calling it controversial since nowhere in the draft is pornography clearly defined.

According to reports, the only working definition, featured in 2003 legislation, is based on personal judgment: “Pornography is vulgar, candid, cynical, obscene depiction of sexual acts, pursuing no other goal, the explicit demonstration of genitals, unethical elements of the sexual act, sexual perversions, realistic sketches that do not meet moral criteria and offend honor and dignity of the human by inciting low instincts.”

In a statement by lawmaker Hennadiy Moskal, he defends the ban by stating it would not be abused and that it may be improved with amendments in the future.

“I am sure that number of cases won’t increase,” he said.