CENSORSHIP: Laws restricting children's access to information

Increasing numbers of States are censoring children's access to information on the spurious grounds of protection - a plain violation of children's civil and political rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

CRIN has become aware of a number of States (not limited to those listed below) that have passed or proposed laws 'protecting children from information deemed harmful to their health and development'. In particular, a pattern of laws is emerging which ban the 'promotion of homosexuality to children'.

If you are aware of similar laws in your country, please contact us at [email protected].

Countries that have passed discriminatory laws


Lithuania adopted the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information in 2002, with later amendments in 2009, which defined public information that has a detrimental effect on the development of minors as material in which ‘homosexual, bisexual or polygamous relations are promoted’ and ‘where family relations are distorted and its values are scorned’ (art. 4(2)). This move was widely campaigned against by both the European Parliament and various lobbying groups and Article 4(2) was subsequently amended by dropping the explicit reference to homosexuality. However the amended version still classifies "encouraging the concept of marriage and creation of a family other than stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania" as information, harmful for children.

On 13 March 2014, the Parliament was due to vote for the first time on a proposed amendment to the Code of Administrative Violations which would introduce administrative liability with fines of up to €1,800 for any public defiance of Lithuania’s constitutionally established family values. However, following pressure from the international community, the bill was removed.


In July 2013, amendments to the Administrative Code and law protecting children from harmful information entered into force, making 'propaganda' about non-traditional sexual relations among minors unlawful.

Article 6.21 of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses, permits the government to fine individuals accused of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors, manifested in the distribution of information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual orientations, the attraction of non-traditional sexual relations, distorted conceptions of the social equality of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations among minors, or imposing information on non-traditional sexual relations which evoke interest in these kinds of relations”.

Prior to the enactment of the Anti-Propaganda Law, between 2006 and 2013, ten regions in Russia had already passed laws banning “propaganda of homosexualism to minors”. Article 6.21 is seen as building on the success of these regional laws.

  • Federal Law No. 135-FЗ (29 July 2013), On Making Amendments to Cer­tain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation in Connection with the Adop­tion of the Federal Law on the Child Protection from Information Harmful to their Health and Development;
  • Federal Law No. 436-FL of December 29, 2010 (2 July 2013), On the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development;
  • Federal Law No. 124-FL of July 24, 1998 On Basic Guarantees of Child Rights in the Russian Federation.


A law “On legal regulation of Internet and Internet service provision in Turkmenistan”, which entered in force on 29 December 2014, establishes restrictions on children's access to information on the Internet. For instance, the law restricts information that “disregards family values and disrespects parents and (or) other relatives”.

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

The regional organisation of the former Soviet States (nine members, two participating members and one former member) has adopted a Model Law on child protection, which prohibits ‘information discrediting the social institution of the family’ and that ‘promotes the formation of distorted orientation and attitudes in the field of marriage and family’ in children (Art. 3, para 14). The law is discriminatory in effect towards LGBT people and people who prefer not to or cannot legally enter into marriage.

Countries that are in the process of adopting discriminatory provisions in laws or have discriminatory draft laws


On February 19, 2015 the upper house of the Kazakh parliament passed amendments to a number of laws to protect children from information ‘harmful to their health and development’. The new regulations include a ban on information products promoting non-traditional sexual orientation, and requires the registration of all websites. Furthermore, according to the Family Code of Kazakhstan, family is a union between a woman and a man and therefore any other portrayal of a family to children is prohibited.

However, on May 27, 2015 the Constitutional Council of Kazakhstan declared these bills inconsistent with the Constitution, due to lack of clarity in a number of provisions, and has sent them back to the parliament for revision.


On June 21, 2016, Moldovan parliament approved a bill to introduce discriminatory anti-gay “propaganda” clauses in national law. The draft legislation pending in parliament adds a paragraph to Article 21 of the Law on the Rights of a Child that reads: “The state ensures protection of a child from the propaganda of homosexuality for any purpose and under any form.” New legislation also amends Article 88 of the Code of Administrative Offenses to define “propaganda of homosexuality” as: “Propaganda of homosexual relations among minors by means of assemblies, mass media, Internet, brochures, booklets, images, audio-video clips, films and/or audio-video recordings, via sound recording, amplifiers or other means of sound amplification.”

The bill would impose fines for individuals and organisations found in violation, and would be primarily enforced by the police.

Moldova’s parliament has previously amended national laws to include other clauses similar to those currently under debate. In 2013, parliament passed a bill amending the Code of Administrative Violations of Article 90 (1) featuring language that activists felt could be interpreted as a prohibition on the dissemination of information about sexual orientation and gender identity, namely: “propagation of any other relations than those related to marriage or family.” Three months after it was passed, in October 2013, parliament annulled the bill, removing the discriminatory clauses.

Moldova also has a law aimed at protecting children from harmful information, adopted in March 2013. This law includes a prohibition on broadcasting ‘wrestling not covered by national sports federations or international’ from 6 until 11 pm.


Upon the initiative of the Council of Ministers a draft law “On making amendments to certain legislative acts of Republic of Belarus on the matters related to the protection of children from information harmful to their health and development” was submitted on 19 December 2014  to the National  Assembly. This draft law lists types of information prohibited or limited for distribution among minors. Among the information prohibited for distribution is information “discrediting the institute of family”, which seems to be rather ambiguous wording leaving a wide margin of appreciation.

According to the conclusions of the legal expertise conducted on behalf of the OSCE Representative on freedom of the media, the draft law contains “prevailing potential for limiting the freedom of speech, media and expression” and “draft law’s wording needs to be improved in relation to the types of information prohibited for distribution among children in order to ensure more information freedom while preserving protection of children’s rights”.

Countries where attempts to introduce discriminatory provisions in laws have failed


On October 6-7, 2018 a referendum to establish a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Romania has failed - after only a fifth of voters bothered to turn out. Just over 20% of Romanian citizens - short of the 30% needed - cast a ballot in the referendum in favour of changes to the constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman removing the gender-neutral term “spouse”. The referendum followed a campaign launched in 2015 by a coalition of so-called “family rights” advocates exploiting children’s perceived best interests. The low turnout comes despite the backing of the powerful Orthodox church and three million signatures raised for the petition in support of constitution amendments.


On April 21, 2014, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament registered a draft bill that imposes criminal sanctions of up to one year in prison and a fine for spreading “a positive attitude to unconventional sexual orientation.” The bill came under significant criticism after its first reading on October 15, 2014, by the human rights organisations and regional bodies, including the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE), Council of Europe (CoE), and the European Parliament.

In June 2015, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament almost unanimously approved the draft law in its second reading. However, the bill was removed from parliament’s agenda the same month due to public outcry and international pressure.

Earlier in 2013, independent experts in Kyrgyzstan undertook a formal assessment of the Draft Law on ‘The protection of children from information harmful to their health and development’. They found this to be incompatible with the Constitution and namely the right to ‘freely seek, receive, store and use information’ and exercise the right to freedom of expression.

The expert assessment also concluded that the draft law does not provide a proper remedy for violations of rights, and is, therefore, incompatible with Art. 2(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and cannot be adopted.


Two draft laws relating to the protection of children from harmful information had been submitted to the Parliament. The laws prohibit 'propaganda' about homosexual relations among minors. 

Draft Law 1155 ‘On the prohibition of propaganda of homosexual relations aimed at children’ proposed measures to ensure the “healthy moral, spiritual and psychological development of children, to promote the idea that a family consists of a union between a man and a woman.” The official explanatory note to the laws reveals that they have been proposed on the grounds that ‘the spread of homosexuality is a threat to national security as homosexualtiy leads to an epidemic of HIV/AIDS and destroys family values and can result in a demographic crisis.’

Ultimately, due to international criticism the Propaganda Bill was removed from parliamentary consideration in April 2014.  

  • Draft Law 1155 ‘On the prohibition of propaganda of homosexual relations aimed at children;’
  • Draft Law 0945 ‘On amendments to legislative acts concerning the protection of children’s right to a safe information space.’


Two draft laws in Hungary failed to attract support from any political party except the party that proposed it in the first place. They were therefore erased from the Parliamentary agenda. The draft laws proposed restricting freedom of assembly and classified same-sex relations as ‘sexual behaviour disorders.’

  • Draft Laws 6720 and 6719 introducing amendments to the Constitution and other legislative acts.


In November 2013, the Latvian Central Election Commission registered the draft law “Amendments to the Protection of the Rights of the Child Law.” The draft was submitted by the NGO “Let us Protect our Children!”. It envisaged amending two sections of the Rights of the Child Law. Firstly, proposed amendments determined that “gender education in child educational and child care institutions should be based on Article 110 of the Constitution” (which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman). Amendments to Section 50 stated that “the involvement of children as participants or as spectators of events aimed at popularisation and advertisement of sexual and marriage relations between persons of the same sex shall be prohibited”. The NGO was required to collect 30,000 signatures within one year to move forward in the legal process, but their efforts failed and the proposed law was not enacted.

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