Washington, DC – March 13, 2013 –The Council for Global Equality applauds the 62 members of the U.S. Congress, who yesterday, called on Chairman Rybak of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, urging the country to refrain from passing pending anti-gay laws. These so-called “Homosexual Propaganda” laws clearly violate basic freedoms of assembly, speech, and press, with criminal sanctions of up to six years in prison for positive media portrayals of same-sex relationships or public gatherings for LGBT rights.
The bipartisan letter was led by Congressman Eric Swalwell of California who stated: “Ukraine in recent decades has made significant strides and commitments to human rights, but these bills threaten to create an environment that condones state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people. This is a clear violation of the fundamental freedoms that both of our countries respect and I urge the parliament to reject both of these bills.”
Tomorrow in Geneva, human rights defenders from the LGBT Council of Ukraine will be delivering a response to these proposed laws before the UN Human Rights Council, where they will condemn Ukraine’s blatant rejection of the UN’s call to scrap these bills. As part of the “Universal Periodic Review” of Ukraine’s human rights record, Ukrainian diplomats stated that their constitution provides sufficient protection, and that the government had no authority over members of Parliament. Olena Shevchenko, representing Ukrainian civil society, responded by noting: “Unfortunately, we need to recognize that the human rights situation of LGBTI people has worsened in Ukraine. Violence against LGBTI people has increased, and peaceful and legitimate public demonstrations against homophobic legislation have been banned and led to the arrest of LGBTI human rights defenders.”
In addition to the public sentiments of the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, members of the European Parliament have also written to their Ukrainian peers to express similar concerns and to call on them to reject the laws. “We hope this public pressure will encourage Ukrainian authorities to see the crucial need for protective legislation for LGBT citizens, as opposed to these outrageous attempts to criminalize basic freedoms of expression. As nondiscrimination laws and provisions are reviewed, sexual orientation and gender identity should be included as grounds for protection – as opposed to these laws, which purposefully exclude LGBT citizens from basic human rights protections,” said Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor at the Council for Global Equality.