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Friday, 4 September 2015

Back brave LGBT comrades in Ukraine


There have now been a series of attacks on LGBT organisation in Ukraine by the far right. Back in June, following comments backing the right to demonstrate by the President, the Kyiv LGBT Pride March went ahead but it was then attacked by the far right. One of the police officers protecting the marchers was seriously injured.

Then last month a march in the Southern city of Odesa was banned and the offices of the local LGBT organisation attacked with firecrackers. Despite the threats activists in Odesa held a flash mob without incident. The banning of the march was criticised by the US Embassy.

Last week we learned that the county's human rights strategy had been drawn up without any mention of LGBT people. And last week a party and home in Kryvyi Rih was attacked and several people badly injured.

In occupied Crimea and in the Donbas, where homosexuality has been recriminalised, of course the situation for LGBT is far worse.

Maxim Eristavi wrote last year about how gay people were part of the Maidan demonstrations that overthrew the corrupt government of Yanukovych. Eristavi counted seven gay people among the 'Heavenly Hundred' murdered by Berkut/Russian special forces. He also wrote about the spinelessness shown by the EU on LGBT rights in their negotiations with Ukraine - a fact which has gone unreported and completely undermines Russian propaganda.

One of the basics of being in the EU is anti-discrimination laws but although LGBT were included in a draft law drawn up last December they were dropped from subsequent versions, reportedly as a result of pressure from churches. So the trade agreement with the European Union will start at the beginning of next year without such protections.

The unbanning of the Kyiv Pride march after Mayor Klitscho blocked it 'in time of war' shows that Western pressure can have an effect.

LGBT must not be sacrificed in the name of solidarity with Ukraine or in the name of national solidarity.

Western supporters of Ukraine and Western LGBT rights groups must keep on the pressure and must put a boot up the backside of the EU. Ukraine has no excuses, none, and must be firmly told that.

As many have commented, the deaths of three young soldiers outside the Ukrainian parliament last week during the violent demonstration by the far right was a sharp reminder to the government that it is past time to ensure that the same far right forces also attacking LGBT people are put back in their box.

According to a report put out earlier this month by the Equal Rights Trust on inequality in Ukraine:
LGBT rights have become a fragile off-shoot of a pro-European choice: “we’d rather have a gay pride in the streets of Kyiv than Russian tanks”, a Kyiv resident told the Trust.
This underlines why we must have the backs of our brave comrades in Ukraine, like these people who protested openly in Kyiv last Sunday.

Translation courtesy Olena Shevchenko. Reblogged with permission from Insight.

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LGBTQI public action-performance was held in Kyiv aimed at protecting the rights LGBTQI community, titled "I will disappear soon." The event took place at 1 PM at the Kyiv city administration with the participation of the NGO "Insight" and other activists.

One activist performed a performance, during which she was lying on the ground covered with rainbow flag and a banner: "I will disappear soon." Other participants were standing around, holding banners: "For freedom of speech", "All Different All Equal", "not ashamed to be gay" and others that you can see in the photos.
"We are trying to say that we live in this country, we are as citizens, we live here and now, and we demand freedom - the same as other people. We want freedom not only for ourselves but for each and every one of us. We say that the right to freedom of expression, the right to peaceful protest, the right for self determination is violated in Ukraine.

We believe that this is a right time to begin to deal with it. We believe that this requires laws and mechanisms as well as education on human rights.

We call for tolerance towards all of us, and we are against violence. We are not afraid - we will go further, and will fight for human rights," said the head of the NGO Insight, Olena Shevchenko.
Loud music from speakers in front of the Kyiv City administration muffled speech. But no one can force us to shut up.

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