The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is warning that Ukraine’s LGBTI community is getting caught in the middle of the struggle between pro and anti-Russian factions in the country, with groups on both sides targeting them for persecution.
The United Nations’ Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) report for the period 2 April to 6 May this year found that both sides in the conflict viewed LGBTIs negatively.
‘The HRRMU has received credible reports of ongoing reports of hate speech, harassment and hate-motivated violent attacks against LGBT persons [in east and west Ukraine], including organized attacks by groups specifically targeting LGBT persons, and limited investigations into such attacks by law enforcement officials or remedy for victims,’ the report reads.
‘The issue of the protection of the rights of LGBT persons has repeatedly been misrepresented and used in a derogatory manner by political actors to discredit opponents.
‘The LGBT community is concerned that the political programmes of the two right-wing parties – Svoboda and Right Sector (leaders of both are running for the Presidency) – clearly state combating homosexuality as one of their goals … the Communist Party of Ukraine has also made negative statements regarding sexual orientation.
‘The LGBT community in Kharkiv informed the HRMMU that they have been receiving threats from both radical right-wing groups and pro-Russian movements. Both sides are quite similar in their negative attitude towards LGBT and their use of hate speech,’ the report concludes.
The United Nations OHCHR is also concerned that legislation to ban so-called homosexual propaganda to minors has again been put forward again in the Ukrainian Parliament.
‘On 15 April, a draft law on the prohibition of propaganda of same-sex sexual relations aimed at children, which has been condemned by the UN human rights mechanisms, as well as the Council of Europe, was withdrawn from Parliament,’ the report states.
‘However, another draft law (Nr. 0945), contemplating similar provisions, technically remains under consideration, despite a motion for its withdrawal.’
The city of Kharkiv is currently the sire of peace talks between the various parties involved in the conflict.