Rise of far right in Ukraine election poses ‘threat’ to gays

Extremist 'fascist' party Svoboda sees surge in popularity during Ukraine's parliamentary elections

Rise of far right in Ukraine election poses ‘threat’ to gays
30 October 2012

A Ukrainian extremist nationalist party accused of homophobia has won a record number of votes in the country’s parliamentary elections.

Svoboda, whose name means ‘freedom’ and is linked to France’s National Front, the British National Party and Hungary’s Jobbik, had taken about 9% of the ballot, early polls showed.

The far-right party, which is accused of homophobia and anti-Semitism, is poised to take 33 out of 450 seats in parliament, having previously only ever held one seat.

Ukrainian activist Olena Shevchenko, of Insight organization, told Gay Star News that Svoboda will make the situation for minorities ‘very difficult’.

‘Svoboda are a really nationalist, fascist party and they are concentrated on the question of nationality, as well as LGBT issues. It’s a big threat for us,’ she said.

The party strongly emphasises Ukraine’s distinct cultural identity, regards the Soviet rule as an occupation of Ukrainian territory, scorns the Kremlin and plays up the importance of Ukrainian over Russian.

Shevchenko told GSN she believes their new found popularity is motivated by frustration at the country’s struggling economy and as a protest against ruling President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

She said: ‘Their surge in popularity is down to the Ukraine’s economical situation which has led to extremism in society.

‘Many people voted for Svoboda just to oppose Party of Regions. In the Ukraine there is a view that we don’t actually have a real opposition because the two main parties have business interests together.

‘Mostly the people voting for Svoboda are not homophobic but they just feel that it is the main party which can be against the Party of Regions.’

A law banning ‘gay propaganda’ is currently passing through parliament and campaigners say it will censor the media, civil society activists and human rights defenders.

A vote earlier this month saw a huge majority of politicians support the bill, which is similar to that passed in St Petersburg in Russia earlier this year.

Gay rights group Stonewall warned that whichever party is represented in parliament, they must respect the rights of LGBT citizens.

Stonewall’s international officer Jasmine O’Connor said: ‘Ukraine’s 2.7 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people routinely face public persecution and humiliation.

‘Regardless of who sits in parliament, it’s important that the government respects all citizens’ human rights and protects people from being attacked because of the way they were born.

‘We’re in contact with Ukrainian equality groups and will do everything we can to support them in their work.’

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Mystery man delivers anti-gay rant at Hong Kong cathedral

He slammed a government proposal to protect the rights of cohabiting gay couples
No thumbnail available

Cameron tells church not to ‘lock out’ people on gay marriage

UK Prime Minister David Cameron tells special guests at Downing Street, including Russell Tovey and Ben Cohen, that church risks turning off faithful with anti-gay stance
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Some scandalized by Kinky Boots performance at Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

But writer Harvey Fierstein praises it as a 'message of tolerance and acceptance to America's parade'
No thumbnail available

London gay clubbers win front row seats to Eurovision

Two girls have won a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Copenhagen, Denmark to be there for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest
No thumbnail available

Gay Star Travel Expo 2015 exhibitor profile: Austrian Airlines

One-stop travel shop takes place at London's Heaven nightclub this Saturday (17 Jan)
Hillary Clinton to gay teen unsure of his future: 'Your future will be amazing'

Hillary Clinton to gay teen unsure of his future: 'Your future will be amazing'

The leading Democratic presidential candidate posted a personal comment to a gay teen who was quoted as saying that he's 'afraid about what my future will be'
No thumbnail available

Ann Widdecombe backs 'gay cure'

Former British MP Ann Widdecombe has backed therapists who claim to 'cure' homosexuality
No thumbnail available

Glenn Beck calls Russian homophobia ‘hetero-fascism’

Conservative radio host Glenn Beck has declared the climate of homophobia in Russia to be ‘hetero-fascism,’ likening it to Nazi Germany, and says he will stand with gay activists against it
No thumbnail available

Former US President Bill Clinton championing gay marriage in Illinois

Legislation has been passed by Senate but is stalled in House of Representatives