Ninety percent of Ukrainians are still unaware there are lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex people around them, at home, at work, in villages, towns and cities all over Ukraine, according to human rights activist Tymur Levchuk.
So to give the LGBTQ community more visibility, and to speak up for their rights, Ukrainian activists will for the fifth year in a row hold Kyiv Pride on June 9–17. The nine-day series of events in Kyiv, which will include conferences, movie screenings and artistic performances, will close with the Equality March on June 17.
“We want LGBTQ people to be not ashamed of who they are, we want to feel free in our country,” said Levchuk, the PR head of Kyiv Pride, at a press conference on the event on June 7.
Levchuk also heads Fulcrum, the biggest LGBT charity organization in Ukraine.
“Kyiv is a city where there should be no discrimination, violence or alienation,” he said. “This is a city where everyone can be themselves.”
The organizers expect about 5,000 people to attend the Equality March this year, and say they are cooperating with the police on security measures.
During the march in June 2017, about 5,000 police officers guarded 4,000 participants, with the event ending up being peaceful. But during the march in 2015, 10 people — including police officers guarding the event — were assaulted and badly injured.
Kyiv Pride’s organizers hope this year’s march will be peaceful, although they have been receiving threats from far-right radicals calling for violence against the LGBTQ community.
Despite having improved over the last few years, the human rights situation for the LGBTQ community in Ukraine is still far from good.
Anna Sharyhina, an LGBTQ activist and Kyiv Pride’s program director, says that “we face barriers in legislation and stereotypes in society.”
Ukrainian legislation does not consider transphobia or homophobia as motives for cases of violence against LGBTQ people. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity are prohibited explicitly only in Ukraine’s Labor Code.
And the increase of the media attention to the issues of the LGBTQ community in Ukraine, which helps raise the community’s visibility, has also had negative consequences, says Maryna Shevtsova, a researcher at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation and an activist for TERGO, a non-government organization that helps the parents of LGBTQ people.
“A lot of people who were indifferent before have become intolerant because the LGBTQ community has more coverage,” the researcher said.
Homophobia and transphobia in the society are, however, hard to measure. Acts of violence against LGBTQ people are often under-reported due to the community’s lack of trust in the police.
Using surveys on gay dating websites and interviews, the Ukrainian non-government Nash Mir center documented 206 cases of violations of LGBTQ people’s rights in 2017. Most went unreported.
However, there is some progress — Ukraine is now ranked 36th out of the 49 European countries listed in the International Lesbian and Gay Association’s ranking of states’ observance of LGBTQ people’s rights. Ukraine was in 46th place in 2015.
On January 26, 2018 in America House Kyiv was presented National School Climate Survey research, conducted by NGO Fulcrum UA in 2017.
According to the research, currently, there is little information on the school life of Ukrainian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teenagers; there is actually no nationwide academic study dedicated to LGBT youth in Ukraine.
Thus, 48.7% of the surveyed felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, 36.5% – because of their body size, and 31.5% – because of their gender expression.
36.9% of LGBT students had missed at least one day of school during the past month due to feeling unsafe at school, 8.7% – six or more days; over a third of students avoided gendered spaces in school because of feeling unsafe or uncomfortable (toilets – 37.1%; locker rooms – 24.5%).
Please find full text of the research by the link.
On 11 and 12 December, representatives of four populations at higher risk of HIV infection—people who inject drugs, sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and former prisoners—gathered in Kyiv, Ukraine, for the legal formalization of the National Platform for Key Communities and to agree on key priorities for advocacy and on how the platform will be managed and operated.
The platform’s priorities will include influencing policies and decision-making processes, the development of a package of HIV prevention services that respond to the needs of key populations and responding to discrimination.
The participants decided on the positioning, role and contributions of the platform in the national AIDS response, the implementation of a Fast-Track strategy and the form of an HIV prevention 100 days of action campaign. They also enthusiastically welcomed continued Dutch, UNAIDS and civil society collaboration and agreed on a unified strategic vision for the participation of civil society and the platform in key events, including the International AIDS Conference, to be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 2018.
The three key advocacy areas for the platform will be:
The participation of communities in decision-making on health, an effective response to HIV and tuberculosis and the protection of human rights.
The provision of access to services for key groups focused on the needs of communities that are implemented by the communities and funded by national and local budgets.
The protection of rights and the prevention of discrimination.
“We will do our best to make the platform an effective advocacy instrument to help us to achieve our joint objectives and influence decision-making processes that affect our lives and health.”
Velta Parkhomenko, National Platform for Key Communities, Ukraine
“The Government of the Netherlands has been and will continue to support this community-led initiative to make the joint voice of key populations in Ukraine heard and taken into account in strategic decision-making at the national, regional and international levels.”
Monique Middelhoff, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands
“The National Platform for Key Communities is a strong, transparent and self-regulated forum of community leaders and individuals with a deep understanding of advocacy and formulating joint positions and statements.”
Members of the Fulcrum charity organization took part at the “10th National LGBT Conference”, which took place in the congress-hotel “Pushcha” from October 20 to 22, 2017.
Within the framework of the side meeting “Achievements of HIV service organizations by the work with MSM” during the conducting of the X National Conference of LGBT movement and MSM service (19-22.10.2017), the CEO of the Fulcrum Tymur, has made a presentation entitled “Compliance of the HIV service with the needs of the community”. The survey was conducted in conjunction with Deloitte. He also participated in a discussion "Discrimination price" with UNDP Ukraine about economic losses from LGBT discrimination in the workplace. During the discussion, he presented our project Ukrainian Corporate Equity Index.
Together with the KyivPride non-goverment organization, we have been discussing the role of the community in overcoming discrimination at the workplace.