The European Commission pays attention to solving the issues of protecting LGBTIQ people’s rights within the process of Ukraine’s accession to the EU

November 9, 23 | News

The European Commission’s report on Ukraine’s readiness to join the European Union does not ignore the issue to protect equal rights for LGBTIQ people. The section “Rule of law and fundamental rights” states the progress achieved by the Ukrainian authorities in recent years and points to the still unresolved problems in this area:

“Overall, during the reporting period the general trend of increasing tolerance and acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) persons in Ukrainian society over the last decade was sustained. The trend towards a decrease in the number of attacks and hate crimes against LGBTIQ persons continues (–44% since 2020). Surveys conducted in 2022 show that a majority is in favour of same-sex partnerships and equal rights for LGBTIQ persons. The government clearly communicates its support for the rights of LGBTIQ persons and against hate crimes and discrimination. In addition, Kyiv Pride was held on 25 June 2023 in Warsaw together with the city’s Equality Parade, focusing on rights for LGBTIQ persons as well as on the support for Ukraine.

Existing legislation, for instance the Labour Code, already provides some level of protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and reforms to ensure equal rights are currently under way. The media law, adopted on 15 December 2022, bans hate speech and incitement based on sexual orientation and gender identity in media. The National Human Rights Action Plan 2021-2023 envisages progress in the status of LGBTIQ persons, for instance by amending the Criminal Code of Ukraine to apply the notion of the term ‘bias’ as regards sexual orientation and gender identity. The plan also suggests drafting a law that would provide for the elimination of discriminatory provisions that may violate the property and non-property rights of unmarried partners as well as the introduction of a registered civil partnership. Amendments to the provisions of the Family Code which currently discriminates same-sex couples compared with unmarried couples of the opposite sex are necessary. In March 2023, a draft bill on legalisation of same-sex marriage was introduced by MPs to Parliament and government has committed to approve the bill by the end of 2023. The judgment by the European Court of Human Rights of 1 June 2023 reinforced the requirement for the state to ensure the equal treatment of same-sex couples in Ukraine.”

Presumably, for the first time the European Commission has directly mentioned to the Ukrainian authorities the need to remove from the Family Code provisions discriminating against same-sex couples, as well as the demand of the European Court of Human Rights to provide them with legal recognition and protection. We are pleased that the data collected by Nash Svit Center and our recommendations were used in the preparation of this report. Of course, the issue of protecting LGBTIQ people’s rights is definitely not the only thing that Ukraine must settle in accordance with the modern European standards in order to become a part of the European Union, but the state authorities and society have to realize that this issue may not be bypassed on the path to EU membership.