Zugzwang in Ukraine or no rights for LGBT

If you write down that in Ukraine nothing is good with human rights, it won’t surprise anyone. Neither in Ukraine, nor abroad. Sometimes it seems that the continuous discrimination, inequality, homophobia, xenophobia, and racism will never be eradicated from the minds of our people. The worst part is that most Ukrainian somehow face the problem of discrimination, suffer from it, but are not willing to fight for change in the situation.

 Zugzwang in Ukraine or no rights for LGBT

The most urgent and hottest topic is the process of European integration, the Vilnius summit is held in less than a month and everybody is consentrated anticipating: where Ukraine will turn: the East or West. Contemplating this process inside and outside, the falseness of this action surprises. In the process of European integration, Ukraine pretends undertaking reforms and population – to have adopted European values, the EU – to believe both.

In 2004, Ukraine received an action plan on visa liberalization. According to the document signed with the EU, we are committed to carry out a series of reforms (starting with creation of the migration service and ending with comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation). Our country took up as much as 6 years to start fulfilling its obligations. The most interesting thing was that the real work in this direction was began under President V. F.Yanukovych, who always proclaimed officially eastern policy of the country and the actual time for his predecessor was probably up to the imitation of reforms rather than real actions.

On April 22, 2011 President of Ukraine signed a decree number 494 /2011 on the implementation of the Action Plan for the liberalization of the EU visa regime for Ukraine. The government and relevant ministries begin a frantic pace creating the laws and normative legal acts for Ukraine's transition to the second phase of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation (it should be noted that the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation has two stages: first – working out antidiscremenation legislation, the second – providing sustainability of related reforms). One of the principal sections is to implement a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. This is the position in the action plan on visa liberalization with the EU was zugzwang for the government.

Hastily adopting the antidiscrimination bill, the Minestry of Justice, knowing "hot" attitude towards homosexual Ukrainian citizens, didn’t include "sexual orientation" to the list of signs on which discrimination is prohibited. The main argument of the Ministry of Justice was that the list of "other features " includes "sexual orientation ." The European Union did not accept this argument and fixed the position that if the government hasn’t adopted the law on defense against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, phase II for Ukrainian visa liberalization will not happen.

In April 2013 the government developed the bill addressing the issues of non-discrimination of homosexuals, unfortunately Bill 2342, which was to provide for the country's progress in matters of discrimination became so outrageous that MPs simply refused to consider it. And due to the active promotion of church leaders, unprecedented myths and legends were created around bill 2342. Grimm brothers seem to be pathetic amateurs in comparison with homophobic opponents of the bill. While this bill only prohibits discrimination against gay people at work place, the radicals continue to scare Ukrainians with homosexual marriages, abduction of children and the Chupacabra.

Which is surprising in this situation that Ukraine has ratified two international conventions and one intergovernmental agreement, which provide protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation of certain social groups, at the same time the government is afraid of Parliament to vote for a sign of "sexual orientation" in the profile law.

Now, international conventions and agreements in Ukraine protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation the three social groups

The first document was the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, which protect by Article 2 the victims of violence against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The next document was an intergovernmental agreement between Spain and Ukraine which was ratified by the Ukrainian parliament in 2010. Under this convention, our government is committed to protect the citizens of the Kingdom of Spain, working in our country based on sexual orientation (Article 6 of the Agreement). The third document was Council of Europe Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes that threaten public health ratified in 2012. We are committed to protect the rights of victims of fake medical products by applying the principle of " non-discrimination " based on sexual orientation.

Now, international conventions and agreements in Ukraine protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation the three social groups: victims of counterfeit medical products , children who are victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, and citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. For other groups, the issue has not been identified yet.

In other democracies protection of LGBT people against discrimination, a certain standard feature for which discrimination is prohibited, was spelled out in a number of constitutions, laws, EU directives and other legal documents. Discrimination against the LGBT community is not a matter for democratic countries. And anti-discrimination legislation including safeguards for LGBT community against discrimination , was adopted by the Balkans and Eastern Europe (Moldova – 2012, Romania – 2006, Bulgaria – 2004).

And yet, most MPs are looking at it through the prism of electoral support rather than through experts and lawyers’ opinions.

For Ukraine, including "sexual orientation" to the list of attributes was the corner stone for the government. The country got literally divided into two camps, one – specialists and experts who understand the necessity for appropriate changes in national legislation, while the other – those who are sure that making this change means contempt for Ukrainian morality. It should be added that it is rather a technical legal issue, because no other change can provide effective protection against discrimination while the other side keeps the right to humiliate and insult gay people.

Currently, the Ukrainian parliament is at the crossroads, on the one hand, the country should meet democratic standards and have commitments to bring legislation to the EU standards, on the other hand, electoral and church support. And yet, most MPs are looking at it through the prism of electoral support rather than through experts and lawyers’ opinions.

The European Union and the Western democracies have become successful, prosperous and happy thanks to human rights. That's because each social group of people feels secure there and safe. Everyone feels that he is born equal and free.

And while the Ukrainians did not catch that, permanantly suppressing certain social group, the whole country will be unhappy until we begin to respect each other and learn to live harmoniously and in peace.

Now we just have to closely monitor the chessboard of the Ukrainian politicians and monitor whether Ukrainian parliament is savvy enough to move the King, and to complete this zugzwang on LGBT issues in Ukraine.

Bogdan Globa

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