TOP defeats and #victories of LGBT in Ukraine. Editors’ Choice

Дата: 30 November 2015 Автор: Margarita Tarasova
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Or when the rainbow colors will appear on Bankova Street

Few people have stood on the sidelines of discussions over LGBT people in Ukraine this year. Several successful newsbreaks as if returned gays and their problems to the Ukrainian society. Some experienced mini frustration, trying to prove the power of “traditional family values” which can make people stop being themselves; some debated vehemently over the sin and the freedom of choice with their Facebook friends. We try to puzzle out what benefits the LGBT community got and whether the generation of young Love just won activists will wait till changes. For your attention our own top victories and defeats of the LGBT people in the war for human rights in our country.


Passing anti-discrimination amendment to the Labour Code of Ukraine


The Parliament of Ukraine endorsed the amendments to the Labour Code to protect employees from discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. It took one week and nine tries for the MPs to pass the draft law No.3442.

Not the last role was played by the activists, who reminded the MPs of the commitments to the EU under the building of the Parliament. Another pressure on parliamentarians was put by the approaching meetings of the European Commission at which the European officials would finally decide on lifting the visa barriers for Ukraine.

The MPs with the stance of religious conservatives had to tear between, overcoming the cognitive dissonance: is it possible to get visa-free regime with no impact on family values?

The choice seemed to be the most painful for the Samopomich (Self Help) faction, whose leader, Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovy, appeared in the center of the scandal a month before, forcing official Iryna Mahdysh to resign because of criticism of the church. The Radical Party faction refused to vote for the law giving homophobic explanation. In turn, the Opposition Bloc suddenly gave their votes. “In any case, we support the family values… I hear some fakes that Ukraine is allegedly going to approve the same-sex marriages. God forbid it, and we will never support this,” Parliament’s Speaker Volodymyr Groysman said while the MPs were pressing the right buttons.

The lobbyists succeeded in gaining additionally over 120 votes to pass the bill, and the bill was finally adopted with 234 votes. However, the MPs are going to consider the new version of the Labour Code soon, so the anti-discrimination amendment may happen to exist for slightly over a month.


Attack on the Equality March in Kyiv


We could include holding of already the second Equality March in Ukraine in the list of the LGBT victories, but for some sad details. The event, scheduled for June 6, was on the verge of cancellation on June 5. The police tried to persuade the organizers to abandon the march to avoid “conflicts with the radicals.” The human rights activists and diplomats occupied the offices of police chiefs, demanding to defend the peaceful demonstration, but everything was in vain as even mayor Vitali Klitschko did not want to listen to the organizers. “It’s not the time to hold public events, which also have an ambiguous perception in society, while the armed operations continue in eastern Ukraine,” the mayor explained, and asked “not to play the game of the enemy.”

President Poroshenko helped the LGBT activists by chance, when he actually instructed the police to protect the demonstrators during the meeting with the media on June 5.

Three thousand policemen, who defended the top secret march participants on Obolonska embankment with due diligence, could not prevent the radicals from beating the dozens of protesters and almost killing a policeman with explosive package. According to the investigation, the bleeding officer with a torn artery in his eye became just the victim of “hooliganism” and the attackers were the “right-wing activists.” The Obolon district police officers considered the homophobic shouting of attackers, their explosive devices, and search for the rest of “unbeaten” gays one hour after the end of the march to be the boring details, not the evidence of hate crime. The political forces that are directly urged to attack the LGBT people also were not held liable. Moreover, MP from the Radical Party Ihor Mosiychuk bailed some radicals out.

Six months later, the Obolon district police officers are still looking for witnesses to the attack.

Beating of gay couple in Kyiv city center


In July, gay couple Timur and Zoryan decided to repeat the social experiment previously conducted in Russia – to walk along the city center holding hands.

The Moscow gay couple faced rudeness, aggression and threats practically on any street. The Kyiv experiment was more optimistic – the passers-by looked back to Zoryan and Timur, however, only few people commented on their couple. The culmination of the video became the scene on Khreshchatyk Street, when Timur sat on the lap of Zoryan. Then, dozen right-wing radicals decided to beat a couple of gay after having shot tear gas in their faces. Obviously, the thugs were not sure whether gays were able to hit back.

After the video had been released, the discussion started over what city had showed a more unfriendly attitude – Moscow, where the couple had to endure insults all their way but they had not been beaten, or Kyiv, where the gays were perceived adequate during the walk, but were beaten in the final. According to Zoryan, the situation in the Ukrainian capital is not so bad, “We did not notice any aggressive reaction while we were walking for an hour along Kyiv. We decided to aggravate the situation. I sat on a bench on Khreshchatyk Street and Timur sat on my lap. We had not to wait for the homophobes for too long. It’s an interesting fact there are only 3-5% of such people in our society and their number nearly equals or is even less than the number of gays. The rest do not care, and will never use force even if they do.”

This experiment has been repeated in many other countries later.

Disruption of queer culture festival in Odesa

Two months after holding the Equality March in Kyiv, the Odesa LGBT activists decided to repeat it in their city. However, the local authorities made their adjustments.

The march was scheduled for August 15 within the framework of the Odesa Pride queer culture festival. As one of the event organizers, Anna Leonova, said, she was asked to attend the hearing on the suit filed by the Odesa City Council executive committee late in the evening of August 12.

The hearing lasted almost till 3 a.m. The executive committee demanded to ban not only the march, but the festival in general. The festival, to be held on August 13-16, provided also for walking tours, discussion platforms, photo exhibition. The court granted the petition regarding the peaceful mass street protest, i.e. the march,” Leonova said. The officials cited the “negative attitudes to the LGBT people in the city” and the court banned the people with rainbow flags from holding the peaceful demonstration.

The LGBT community had to gather for the closed meeting at the Qeerhome Odessa queer culture center. However, about 15 young people with badges “Ultras Odesa” threw smoke bombs and firecrackers at the windows of the room where about fifty representatives of the LGBT community had already gathered.

More than ten people, who had taken active part in the violation of public order, were invited to one of the Odesa district police departments to give explanation,” the Odesa police later reported. We may suppose that the perpetrators were given educational lecture or even had to pay fine.

Homophobic judge of Kyiv district court

October 29, 2014, two guys brought smoke bombs to the LGBT movie show at the Zhovten cinema theatre in Kyiv “to protest against sodomy”. Having thrown the bombs together with an unknown flammable liquid, they almost completely destroyed the theater. The activists of the Save Zhovten movement and the audience of the cinema theatre did their best and the city budget allocated 50 million hryvnias to finally open the reconstructed theater on October 18. Mayor Vitali Klitschko turned the opening ceremony into the pre-election campaigning, and the Save Zhovten activists and patrons remained the soldiers of the invisible front.

The Molodist Festival fans were happy that one of its locations would not be moved this year but that still had to be done as the Zhovten administration hinted that the LGBT movies would not be shown here.

The activists, however, got out of tune even two weeks prior to the opening when the Holosiivsky District Court of Kyiv sentenced two arsonists of the cinema theatre to three and two years of probation. According to the domestic justice, the life hazard and the damages to the city worth UAH 50 million is a trifle, when it comes to the sacred struggle against the sodomy.

Homophobic judge of Kharkiv district court

A few weeks ago, the district court in Kharkiv read out the guilty verdict for the killer of a gay – eight years for the intentional crime. A student of the local university, who met his future victim on the Internet and killed him in his own apartment, was sentenced to the shortest possible term.

The Kharkiv courts decided that killing a gay is not as bad as killing a heterosexual, and so there is nothing special in the fact that the killer stabbed several knife wounds at the man of another orientation. As the judge explained, he softened the punishment for the “attitude of the murderer to the crime, his initiative and goal to meet with the victim and the number of wounds.”

No wonder that the right-wing radicals in Ukraine are given certain preferences for “utterance of civic stance.” Someone respect them for aggressive nationalism, while others are simply afraid of them. It is not clear still when and where they receive a license to kill.

However, all is not lost in the case of the murdered gay in Kharkiv, as lawyer of the aggrieved party Roman Likhachev would file appeal soon, but what are the chances to convict a murderer on hate crime in this country?

Statistics gives a disappointing response.

Of course, we were guided solely by our own impressions and assessments while making this ranking and could not know everything, obviously. There were more causes to speak about LGBT community this year than the article covers. However, those causes were more often sad than joyful. Despite the fact that much violence and impunity remains in the life of gays, lesbians and transgender people, we know that their efforts are the breakthrough for all of us, even if they are unsuccessful.

Most likely, neither the current nor the next president of Ukraine will lighten the Presidential administration in rainbow colors as a sign of the LGBT equality in all spheres. But we hope to see this come true.

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