Experts say that the Violation of the Rights of LGBT hinders European Integration

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Ukraine must be protected by Ukrainian legislation, if Ukraine really is considering the path of Eurointegration.

This was discussed today at a press conference dedicated to the discussion of the human rights of the LGBT community.

As noted by Tetyana Mazur, Director of Amnesty International Ukraine, LGBT are not demanding any preferential rights or special treatment.

 “They are Ukrainian citizens and have a right to be protected in the same way as other citizens,” stressed Mazur.

According to a Human Rights Information Center correspondent, during the press conference report "From Despair to Hope" on the situation of LGBT people in Ukraine in 2014 was presented. The report mentions eleven attacks on gay clubs in Kyiv, Donetsk, and Odessa in the past year. Since the beginning of 2015, there have already been a number of murders of homosexuals (in particular, for the purpose of robbery) in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Luhansk. The most high-profile crime, the main motive of which was probably homophobia, in the autumn of last year was the arson of Kyiv movie theater Zhovten, where LGBT-themed films were played.

Andriy Kravchuk, an expert of from the LGBT Human Rights Center "Our World," says that Ukraine's political life in 2014 was characterized, above all, by the transition from an ideological confrontation between the "Russian world" and the modern West in the mass consciousness to a real bloody conflict. This process began with the Euromaidan events in late 2013-early 2014 and continued with the Russian occupation of Crimea and southern Donbass. Therefore, LGBT issues, in light of all these events, faded into the background. Moreover, to carry out any civil activity in the occupied territories has become life-threatening.

 “LGBT organizations in Crimea went underground,” noted Kravchuk.

On July 4th, 2014, at a meeting with the organizing committee of the march of equality "KyivPride2014," police claimed that it was impossible to ensure the safety of demonstrators from a large group of right-wing counter-demonstrators who could arrive at the event armed. Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko then called on the organizers to cancel it, adding that now is not the time for such “entertainment” events in Ukraine.

 “It should be noted that, with such a refusal, their rights to self-expression and peaceful assembly were violated. These are fundamental human rights. We very much hope that the Kyiv and national authorities will change their position and that it will be possible to hold the equality march in June,” said Mazur.

She also added: “We realize that now there is a war, but the conflict is not only an armed confrontation, it’s a struggle of values. And in Europe such values, in particular, are human rights and part of the rule of law.”

“The attitude towards the LGBT community is a kind of a marker. Homophobia must be eradicated from our society. If LGBT rights are violated, would anyone guarantee that the rights of other groups will not be violated? Therefore, on the way to Europe, Ukraine needs to understand that discrimination must be prohibited on any ground. Yesterday in the Verkhovna Rada committees, a discussion of the National Human Rights Strategy (NHRS) began, which so far does not mention discrimination on ‘grounds of sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’ anywhere. It seems that these subjects are taboo among the deputies,” said Kravchuk.

However, human rights advocates hope that the situation will change. In particular, they base their forecast on the requirements of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalization and the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement. These documents clearly state the prohibition of any discrimination.

 “Today, the recognition of the rights of LGBT people is happening in developed countries. It is a logical process. It is unlikely that Ukraine is unique. And I do not think that Ukrainian politicians will be spitting against the wind. If the Ukrainian government delays the appropriate reforms, it will not come as a surprise that our state will be lagging behind,” said Kravchuk.

Recently, Bogdan Globa, Director of Fulcrum AUCO (All-Ukrainian Charity Organization), urged to include the rights of the LGBT community into the NHRS.

On the whole, the Council of LGBT Organizations of Ukraine has developed an action plan for LGBT rights to be included into the NHRS, which is currently being prepared by the Government in collaboration with non-governmental associations on the instruction of President Poroshenko. In particular LGBT activists say that discrimination based on sexual orientation must be prohibited in all spheres regulated by law; discriminatory statements must be excluded from the Ukrainian legislation; a number of articles of the Criminal Code must be reviewed, and they must provide responsibility not only for crimes motivated by racial, ethnic or religious intolerance, but also homophobia; the institution of registered civil partnerships must be introduced in Ukraine and made open for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples; and basic information about sexual orientation must be included into the educational programs.

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