Ukrainians tell, what they think about discrimination of LGBT community
The December 10th is celebrated around the world as the day of Human Rights. We asked ukrainians of different age, profession and worldview if discrimination toward LGBT exists in Ukraine and how it is shown?
Denis Yaroshenko, editor
In Ukraine, unfortunately, discrimination does take place for the majority of population. Almost every person is a part of a certain minority group, whose rights are violated. Women are discriminated because they are of the weaker sex (just listen to some comments from male drivers about their female colleagues), elderly people are discriminated because they are too old (oh, try to get a job in your forties), villagers - because they are "peasants", Kyiv citizens - because they are the "smart ones". And when we speak about people with disabilities...I don't know. This list has no ending.
The worst happens when people discriminated on certain grounds happily join forces of discriminators and begin discriminating other minorities.
Absolutely, LGBT people suffer the most. Ongoing bullying and offensive jokes from your friends, humiliative claims from clerics, who are so drunk from power and immorality. And obviously, the unwillingness of parliament to pass the antidiscrimination laws.
Petro Lyakhovetskyi, game designer
One friend of mine told me he has found a place somewhere in the centre of underground station, where he thought was a meeting point for people of nontraditional sexual orientation. Every time he passed that point, he stopped and beat up or verbally abused the guys sitting on a bench, talking. No idea if those were actual LGBT representatives, but to my mind the situation is stupid. Moreover, i don't think this could be called discrimination - just regular hooliganism, which can be turned against anyone - woman, child, disabled person or black person.
The cases of hooliganism toward LGBT can't be called discrimination
However the topic would become more interesting if, for example, one of old mates in the gang turns out to be gay. How to behave in this situation? What to talk about? How would friends react (myself including) if such situation took place? Most likely - that would be the moment we all realise how intolerant we are. I remember that one time in a chat with friends the talk developed into something about gays and i heard something like "Let them do whatever they wanna do but not in front of my eyes, or my kids."
So, even when the concept of LGBT itself is unacceptable for a person - they try to ignore the topic by all means without making a huge problem out of it. As far as i know, this is the most common type of attitude.
Thamila Vergeles, freelancer
Discrimination of LGBT persons in Ukraine exists and moreover, flourishes. It especially became obvious before the Kyiv Pride took place (March of Equality). The screams were as loud as if someone was forced to change their sexual orientation.
That is to say, no one's rights are infringed, it's your personal business, do whatever you want in your bedrooms but don't you dare bring it out to public with your parades.
The most curious thing is that such statements come from rather adequate people who explicitly support Ukraine moving toward euro integration. To achieve euro integration we need to abandon USSR's taboos.
Iryna Korova, expertee for UN project "Strengthening the National TB and HIV Council in Ukraine"
It is important to divide the meanings of tolerance and discrimination. Ukraine is certainly rich for homophobia, which mostly depicts our low level of culture and societal non adaptation. In the last couple of years human rights organisations became more vociferous in regards to infringement of LGBT rights, but there's a very simple explanation to that: the more donors give financial support, the more we hear about discrimination. This is how charity works nowadays.
In addition, various HIV/AIDS prevention programs help the development of LGBT communities, because they exist in almost every region, supported by international organisations. Info-brochures and condoms (for what financial support is usually provided) are societal and political influences.
Violations of LGBT rights in Ukraine are too big of a deal. Of course, this is my personal opinion, that I, however, formed throughout my time spent working with LGBT community.
I want to make an example that speaks for itself, it's more about tolerance. I've been noticing how one of LGBT partner organisation representative, human rights advocate and just a quite famous persona in community allows himself to regularly share pictures of his naked abs on social networks, or celebrating anniversary of his first untraditional sexual experience, or saying things like "why is the restaurant so expensive but the waiter is not so pretty?" If i had a friend of traditional sexual orientation, i'd consider him inadequate, i would not tolerate such behavior and delete him from my Facebook friends. Unfortunately, the person i was talking about got away with such treatment, despite a bug number of respectable and educated followers, because all professionalists are taught to be tolerant.
Olena Maksimets, school student
Nowadays, far not every teenager obeys the norms of tolerance. Why do i think so? Unlike many european states, where people of nontraditional orientation are treated with respect, Ukrainians treat them "however they want". That's why i've heard or seen so many times from both my friends or just strangers their aggression toward so-called "homos". And all because some people are out of your personal "borders", because they are - special! Unfortunately, very few people of my age understand that... or maybe just afraid to understand.
Vyacheslav Korzchov, soldier
In my opinion, discrimination of LGBT community in Ukraine does take place. The society has certain biases toward LGBT people, as if they have a sexual disorder. This consequents in restricting LGBT people on the right for public gatherings, expressions, limiting societal prospects of communication, limiting their citizen rights (marriage registration, adoption, difficult legal process of gender recognition)
Unfortunately, the societal thought and biases are formed thanks to old-fashioned ideas regarding LGBT (USSR's legislation, prison subculture, false biological explanations) have deep roots. This is why we need decades to see the change in attitude of an average citizen toward LGBT persons.
Olena Kozchevnikova, payment systems expert
One the most striking cases of discrimination toward LGBT in Ukraine were bloody consequences of Kyiv Pride 2015 and of the "anti-discriminations" amendment adoption. Let me remind you what one of MPs Unuguryan had to say on this "a state with a thousand-year-old christian history". Where so-called "christian morality" dissipates real universal human values.
None of the people i know personally came out after *successful* amendment adoption.
In Ukraine, only very successful respected people, who are remarkable at their profession can afford to come out. By all means, a homophobic boss will find an excuse to fire an LGBT persona.
On the other hand, there's a plethora of aggressive LGBT propaganda on Facebook, which i would encounter as discrimination. Successfully, many "right" activists use it, thus making it LGBT as a universal threat to the neutral-minded majority. Vice versa - positive information can never make it to the end user - and activists for '"traditional marriage" use the same analogues and "facts" (comparisons with pedophiles, zoophiles, etc.)
Nick Storchay, student
To sum up all previous comments, I'd like to stress, that it is important to differ homophobia and discrimination. Homophobia - is a biased attitude toward LGBT (to call a homosexuality "untraditional" sexual orientation or call a gay "homo" is a manifestation of homophobia). Discrimination - is unequal treatment in equal conditions, for example the employer won't give you the job not because you lack experience, but because you are a lesbian. In society discriminators are usually those who have power - bosses on your job, MPs who can dictate homophobic laws, parents who can kick their LGBT kids out etc.
In Ukraine, rights and needs of the citizens are explicitly ignored, MPs decide to disregard queer community.
Discrimination of LGBT persons lies in: restriction of the right for adoption, right for marriage, right to become a donor for homosexual men, human right to gender recognition - for instance, transgenders who desire to legally change their sex must pass a humiliating test and go through obligatory sterilisation. Even when discrimination is so vividly visible and has drawn wide public attention - you'll never hear a legal response or judgemental comment from ukrainian politicians.
Discriminative behavior is first of all dictated by homophobia being embedded in law and other legal structures that intersect with all spheres of life. Yes, discrimination toward LGBT in Ukraine does exist and has to be fought against both on legally and in our daily life. All people are born with the same rights, but some people get deprived of them. And that is unacceptable.