Ukrainian government held the first ever event dedicated to protection of LGBTQ people’s rights

February 15, 24 | News

On February 13, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine hosted a round table “Harmonization of Ukrainian legislation with European standards in the field of combating discrimination and ensuring diversity” which was actually dedicated to one topic: overcoming homo/transphobia and its consequences on the path of Ukraine’s integration into the EU and all modern free world.

This event was significant because it became the first event of its kind, dedicated to the protection of LGBTQ people’s rights and interests, which was organized by the Ukrainian government — namely, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in partnership with the joint project of the European Union and the Council of Europe “Support for implementing European standards relating to anti-discrimination and rights of national minorities in Ukraine”. It was attended by representatives of the Ukrainian government (in particular, deputy ministers of foreign affairs, social policy, and justice), Ukrainian Ombudsman’s, members of the Verkhovna Rada, representatives of the European Commission, Council of Europe, other international organizations, the diplomatic corps, and Ukrainian public LGBTQ and human rights organizations, including Nash Svit Center.

All those present emphasized the fact that solving the urgent issues of protecting the rights of LGBTQ people is one of the tasks that our state must fulfill in order to join the European Union and successfully integrate into the free world. This task is not optional, it follows from the fundamental principles of modern democracy and Ukraine’s international obligations, and the Ukrainian authorities understand this. The most important steps within its framework are the adoption of amendments to the Criminal Code and anti-discrimination legislation (Bill 5488) and a law on registered civil partnership (Bill 9103) which have long been awaiting consideration by the Verkhovna Rada.

Both of these draft laws should solve the systemic problems of Ukrainian legislation which in its current form does not meet modern European standards and does not ensure the protection of the legal rights and interests of the LGBTQ community. In particular, only the adoption of Bil 9103 or a similar law can ensure full implementation of the European Court of Human Rights’ decision in the case “Maimulakhin and Markiv v. Ukraine” — this was unanimously stated by representatives of the Ukrainian authorities and the Council of Europe. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will soon meet to assess the actions of the Ukrainian government to implement this decision, and until appropriate changes are made to Ukrainian legislation, this matter will not be removed from its agenda. After all, it is primarily needed by the Ukrainian society itself, an integral part of which is the LGBTQ community.

The main stumbling block in this matter is not the executive power, which understands and supports these steps, but the members of the Verkhovna Rada — Ukrainian legislators are more conservative than the people they represent. Recent public opinion polls confirm that Ukrainianians are ready for such legislative changes and, in general, support them. The global practice shows that in democratic states legislators are ultimately forced to respond to social changes — the joint task of the Ukrainian government, civil society organizations, and our international and foreign partners is to speed up this process.