Ac­tion Plan for Ukrainian LGBTI Com­mu­nity

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - An­drii Kravchuk, Ex­pert of LGBT Hu­man Rights NASH MIR Cen­ter

Ukraine was the first of the post-Soviet states to de­crim­i­nal­ize con­sen­sual gay sex. The rel­e­vant law was one of the first of the new state’s le­gal acts. Then the sit­u­a­tion of the Ukrainian LGBTI com­mu­nity vir­tu­ally froze for long years. Al­most noth­ing changed in leg­is­la­tion and pub­lic at­ti­tudes to­wards LGBTI peo­ple even wors­ened, ev­i­dently be­cause of the ever-grow­ing in­flu­ence of the coun­try's main churches, both Or­tho­dox and Greek Catholic. Only the de­pos­ing of Yanukovych’s pro-Rus­sian ad­min­is­tra­tion and real re­forms tend­ing to­ward Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion ini­ti­ated vis­i­ble changes in Ukrainian LGBTs’ le­gal and so­cial sit­u­a­tions. In Novem­ber 2015 the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment adopted the Ac­tion Plan to Im­ple­ment the Na­tional Strat­egy of Hu­man Rights un­til 2020. It be­came the first state pol­icy to ap­proach mod­ern Western stan­dards for hu­man rights in many spheres of life. For many vul­ner­a­ble so­cial groups, in­clud­ing LGBTI peo­ple, it was quite a rev­o­lu­tion­ary one. Un­der the plan, within three years the Ukrainian leg­is­la­tion and state poli­cies had to im­ple­ment top nec­es­sary mea­sures ac­knowl­edg­ing the in­ter­ests and le­gal rights of LGBTI peo­ple. In­cluded were crim­i­nal­iza­tion of hate crimes from mo­tives of ho­mo­pho­bia and trans­pho­bia, ex­plicit pro­hi­bi­tion of dis­crim­i­na­tion on grounds of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity in all spheres of pub­lic life, in­tro­duc­tion of civil part­ner­ship for both op­po­site-sex and same-sex cou­ples, sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of gen­der re­as­sign­ment pro­ce­dures, and much more. Af­ter one year of the Ac­tion Plan's re­al­iza­tion we can draw ini­tial con­clu­sions about its ac­tual adop­tion. Ac­cord­ing to es­ti­ma­tions by Ukrainian hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions the Ac­tion Plan's im­ple­men­ta­tion does not ex­ceed 20%, to­tal level. Like­wise for its LGBTI com­po­nents, but here the sit­u­a­tion is much worse than in other fields be­cause up to the present LGBTI com­mu­nity in­ter­ests have been al­most com­pletely ig­nored in Ukrainian leg­is­la­tion and state poli­cies. The only real devel­op­ment in this sphere dur­ing the pre­vi­ous two decades was the ad­di­tion of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity (SOGI) as pro­tected grounds in la­bor leg­is­la­tion in 2015, be­com­ing pos­si­ble only be­cause of con­stant pres­sure from EU in­sti­tu­tions. While other vul­ner­a­ble so­cial groups in Ukraine al­ready have some level of recog­ni­tion and pro­tec­tion from the state, LGBTI peo­ple still re­main mostly dis­re­garded and stig­ma­tized. The Min­istry of Jus­tice al­ready re­fused to men­tion SOGI ex­plic­itly in the gen­eral anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion law, the Min­istry of In­te­rior tries to avoid amend­ing the Criminal Code ac­cord­ing to the Ac­tion Plan's pro­vi­sions on hate crimes, and the only vis­i­ble suc­cess was achieved in chang­ing the rules of gen­der re­as­sign­ment. Af­ter Uliana Suprun be­came Act­ing Min­is­ter of Health in 2016, her min­istry swiftly started to take up tasks the Ac­tion Plan placed on it which had been com­pletely ig­nored by this gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tion’s pre­vi­ous lead­er­ship. Thus, ob­vi­ously the re­al­iza­tion of the plan's pro­vi­sions depends en­tirely on the pres­ence of our coun­try's po­lit­i­cal lead­ers’ good will. Alas, this will is ev­i­dently ab­sent. The most im­por­tant LGBTI pro­vi­sion of the Ac­tion Plan con­sists of de­vel­op­ing a draft civil part­ner­ship law avail­able for same-sex cou­ples (as well as for op­po­site-sex ones (but the lat­ter al­ready have the op­tion of or­di­nary mar­riage). The law is due now, in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017, yet the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment still has not even de­cided which of two min­istries – Jus­tice or So­cial Pol­icy – is re­spon­si­ble for this task and both in­sti­tu­tions refuse to im­ple­ment it! So far only Ukrainian LGBTI and hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, Nash Mir Cen­ter above all, are en­gaged in press­ing for ac­tion. We of­fered our ex­per­tise and have even drafted a text of the planned bill to help the gov­ern­ment, but ev­ery time we’ve en­coun­tered only in­dif­fer­ence and the of­fi­cials’ to­tal dis­re­gard of their obli­ga­tions. Nev­er­the­less we do not give up. Nash Mir Cen­ter al­ready has twenty years’ ex­pe­ri­ence pro­tect­ing and ad­vo­cat­ing LGBTI rights in Ukraine. We de­vel­oped along with the young Ukrainian democ­racy, we fought for free­dom and equal­ity in the first Maidan – the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion – and in the sec­ond Euromaidan’s Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­nity. Only af­ter the lat­ter, af­ter the fi­nal vic­tory of the pro-Euro­pean forces over the pro-Rus­sian ones in 2014, have we seen how Ukrainian po­lit­i­cal par­ties, so­ci­ety and gov­ern­ment be­gan to change their at­ti­tudes to­ward LGBTI is­sues. A win­dow of pos­si­bil­i­ties ap­peared for rapid mod­ern­iza­tion of Ukrainian so­ci­ety and eman­ci­pa­tion of the Ukrainian LGBTI com­mu­nity, so we can­not af­ford to lose this great chance! All this be­came pos­si­ble only through devel­op­ment of civil so­ci­ety in Ukraine and the per­ma­nent ef­forts of our Western part­ners pres­sur­ing Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties. Also, one can­not un­der­es­ti­mate the in­flu­ence of changes that hap­pened in Western so­ci­ety and pol­i­tics dur­ing re­cent decades: the emer­gence of new in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of LGBTI rights. Nash Mir Cen­ter tries to use ev­ery avail­able do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional in­stru­ment to push the process of re­al­iz­ing these mod­ern stan­dards re­gard­ing LGBTI and gen­eral hu­man rights is­sues. Thus, we uti­lize not only po­lit­i­cal pres­sure ex­erted upon the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment to en­sure adop­tion of nec­es­sary leg­is­la­tion, but also we re­sort to strate­gic lit­i­ga­tion by su­ing Ukraine in the Euro­pean Court on Hu­man Rights over the ab­sence of any le­gal form that rec­og­nizes same-sex fam­ily cou­ples. We hope that these tac­tics of ours (proven by oth­ers to be suc­cess­ful in cases against Greece and Italy) will even­tu­ally prompt the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment to carry out its obli­ga­tions and adopt a law on regis­tered part­ner­ship. Be­sides these ac­tiv­i­ties, Nash Mir Cen­ter also car­ries on per­ma­nent ef­forts to pro­tect and serve the in­ter­ests of the Ukrainian LGBTI com­mu­nity, pri­mar­ily by mon­i­tor­ing vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights and pro­vid­ing le­gal as­sis­tance to such vic­tims. For in­stance, a more de­tailed re­port on our ac­tiv­ity against hate crimes can be found in KyivPost’s pre­vi­ous is­sue, just look for the ar­ti­cle The hate that dare not speak its name. Those in­ter­ested in the sit­u­a­tion of LGBTI peo­ple in Ukraine can also find up-to-date in­for­ma­tion at our web­site Do­na­tions are wel­comed.

Bill­boards of Nash Mir Cen­ter to Euro­vi­sion 2017

Bill­boards of Nash Mir Cen­ter to Euro­vi­sion 2017

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