Situation of LGBTI* in Ukraine: Community online

06.02.2021 | cb — No comments
Drones carried the Rainbow flag to the sword of the Mother Motherland monument in Kyiv on 21 June 2020. Photo: Screenshot KyivPride video

The COVID pandemic has become a major factor influencing the daily life of Ukrainian society in 2020, including the LGBT community. Due to the relevant quarantine measures, the vast majority of LGBT events planned for this year were conducted online, via the Internet.

However, even in such circumstances, Ukrainian LGBT organizations and activists, in general, have successfully used the available opportunities for information, education, advocacy and other activities.

Mass March in Zaporizhzhya

Although the biggest and notable LGBT event of the year in Ukraine – the Equality March in Kyiv – took place only virtually, online, its organizers managed to draw attention to the LGBT community’s problems through spectacular public events, and especially by the virtual decoration of Ukraine’s largest sculpture ofthe Motherland with a rainbow flag.

While the pride actions in Odesa and Kharkiv were much more modest than usually, the first Equality March was still successfully held in Zaporizhzhya in the traditional format of a mass march.

Zaporizhzhya Pride. Photo: Gender Z

Apparently, the quarantine restrictions on mass events and physical communication have caused a sharp decrease in cases of attacks, discrimination and other violations of LGBT rights in Ukraine documented in 2020 by Nash Mir Center: 188 against 369 in the previous 2019. In other respects, the situation in this area has not fundamentally changed: right-wing radical groups have been monitoring and trying to disrupt any LGBT activities, and the effectiveness of police action to prevent and counter their attacks has been generally low.

However, it should be noted the quite professional and effective work of the police in Zaporizhzhya, who, in cooperation with the organizers of the Equality March in this city, provided reliable protection of this event from aggressive opponents of the LGBT community

Hate crimes on SOGI still on hold

A few years later than was planned, the Ministry of Interior has eventually manage to draft a bill criminalizing hate crimes, in particular on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, as provided for in the Action Plan on Human Rights for the period until 2020.

However, it did not submit it to the Cabinet of Ministers, as was also provided for in this document. An attempt to consider parliamentary bills on this topic in the Verkhovna Rada also 2 failed: three alternative draft amendments to the Criminal Code did not receive support in the relevant parliamentary committee and were withdrawn from consideration.

KharkivPride in 2020 was actually a protest in driving cars. Photo: @arrideo

Ukraine’s first Action Plan on Human Rights expired in 2020, but the Ministry of Justice, in cooperation with civil society, has developed a new Action Plan for the period until 2023, which includes the main unimplemented LGBT components of the previous document: drafting bills on criminalization of offences motivated by intolerance, and the introduction of the institution of registered civil partnership available to same-sex couples in Ukraine. This document, however, has not yet been adopted in early 2021.

Acceptance in Ukraine is increasing

In general, in 2020, government agencies did not make important decisions on the protection of LGBT rights in Ukraine. Among the state representatives, only the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights paid the considerable attention and support to the protection of LGBT rights, responding promptly and effectively to hate speech against LGBT people by the media, officials, and religious figures.

LGBT issues in 2020 did not play an important role in the public life of Ukraine. It is worth noting, however, that opinion polls show a slow increase in tolerance and acceptance of LGBT people in Ukrainian society.

Source: Nash Mir, “Community online“, 2021, Annual Report on the situation of LGBTI* in Ukraine

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