Today, 5 November 2015, the Parliament of Ukraine once again deliberately ignored the interests of millions Ukrainians – the LGBT community in particular, – the recommendations of European institutions, and Ukraine’s direct obligations to the European Union – by voting for the draft Labour Code without prohibiting discrimination in labour relations on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The proposal of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice to consider the amendment on introducing such a ban during preparation of the draft Labour Code to the second reading received the support of only 117 MPs and, therefore, was defeated.
This prohibition is a necessary condition for the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation between Ukraine and the EU (para. 2.4.3 “Citizens’ rights including protection of minorities”) and is expressly provided for in the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU (Annex XXXIX, section “Anti-discrimination and gender equality”). We remind that this is a prerequisite for obtaining a visa-free regime for all Ukrainians.This decision means that Ukrainian authorities begin their path to Europe by exemplifying a conscious disregard of European legislation (namely, Council Directive 2000/78/EC from 27.11.2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and professional activities) and their obligations to their European partners. No other country that aspires to integrate with the EU indeed behaves this way. The Parliaments of Moldova and Georgia have adopted all the necessary legislation, thus Moldova has already received the visa-free regime with the EU and Georgia hopes to have it next year.
The new Ukrainian government could not demonstrate the strength to make even the beginning and initial step closer to modern European standards. Do our politicians believe either that the EU will support our country unconditionally and without the necessary reforms, or that our nation should not integrate with Europe? We think that they are wrong in both cases – Ukraine has to become a part of modern liberal democratic Europe. However, this goal cannot be achieved without strong and profound changes in Ukrainian legislation, society and political life. Ukraine will not be able to advance towards European integration until our lawmakers cease to share the values of the so-called Russian World.
For these reasons we call on the EU to respond properly to the fundamental disregard by the Ukrainian government of their obligations under international agreements between Ukraine and the EU, and to refuse that our state be granted a visa-free regime until the full and effective implementation of these commitments – in particular regarding the direct and explicit legal prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.