Meaning of equality
Those watching Ukraine’s parliament struggle to pass anti-discrimination legislation this week would be forgiven for thinking they were watching Russia’s State Duma, where it’s acceptable to promote violence against gays.
In the end, Ukrainian lawmakers on Nov. 12 passed the bill supported by President Petro Poroshenko and the European Union, legislation that prohibits discrimination in the workplace. But it took them three sessions to pass it, and throughout the entire process, homophobia was on full display.
It was passed in six attempts, and only aftrer the speaker promised the legislation wouldn’t lead to same-sex marriages.
The bigotry and homophobia on display in the legislature was reminiscent of Russian lawmakers Vitaly Milonov and Elena Mizulina, who authored the anti-LGBT legislation that has officially sanctioned violence against gays.
With its reluctance to pass this crucial legislation, Ukraine showed that it is still plagued by the same Soviet bigotry as its backward and belligerent neighbor.
Once adopted, social media was full of joyful proclamations such as, “Yay! The LGBT activists weren’t attacked at the protest (in front of parliament)!”
Consider the implications of this: Ukrainian society is so overrun with bigotry that people are simply used to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists getting attacked. They feel compelled to cheer when they don’t get attacked.
Accustomed to a Soviet mentality in government, the public must express thanks when lawmakers pass a bill that would have been passed without hesitation in most Western countries.
The worst part is that lawmakers seemed genuinely oblivious to what equality actually means.
While the amendment has found strong support among gay rights activists, it is about much more. It’s about equality as a whole – for all genders, races, religions, ethnicities, ages and much more. It guarantees that people from all walks of life will be entitled to the same rights.
And yet somehow, in the puny minds of certain lawmakers, this bill was distorted to mean gay marriage was right around the corner. To them, equality is an alien concept. And now that the international community has seen this, it will be harder to believe that Ukraine really wants progress and growth.
But hey, at least no one was violently attacked while speaking out for equality.