Foreign Policy magazine analyzes Ukraine’s vote yesterday against closer ties to the European Union and against a ban on anti-LGBTI discrimination. This is an excerpt from the Foreign Policy article:
This spring, Ukraine’s government decided to purge the country of its Soviet past. All through the land, chisels and winches went to work chipping away Communist symbols and toppling Lenin statues by the dozens. But the Soviet dictatorship was composed of more than stone. It was also an ideology, the chief component of which was a callous disregard for human rights. Recently, however, the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, proved that this part of its Soviet past is very much alive in modern Ukraine.
On Nov. 10 the Verkhovna Rada refused to pass a law that would have allowed Ukrainian citizens to have the long-awaited privilege of visa-free travel in the European Union. The reason behind the legislation’s resounding defeat? A provision preventing discrimination against gays in the workplace. This provision, which is a precondition for visa-free travel set by the EU, ignited a vociferous outcry, and ultimately turned into a red line which the Rada refused to cross.
“As a country with a thousand-year-old Christian history, we simply cannot allow this,” is how Rada deputy Pavlo Unguryan, a member of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s own party, explained it after a previous attempt to pass the legislation on Nov. 5 failed.
This isn’t the first homophobic news to come out of Ukraine this year: On June 6, members of the ultranationalist group Right Sector attacked Kiev’s gay pride parade, brutally injuring numerous marchers as well as police. In July, when a pair of gay activists decided to test the extent of Ukraine’s new Western values by holding hands in the middle of Kiev, they were quickly assaulted by thugs. On Nov. 2, the Kyiv Post profiled Mykola Dulskiy, the founder of a vigilante group called Fashion Verdict, whose mission, according to the article, is to “sweep promiscuity, gambling, sexual offenders and homosexuality from the streets of Ukraine’s cities.” The “verdict” is delivered in a rather straightforward manner: Members of the organization track down and beat anyone they deem degenerate.
But the damage caused by the Rada’s refusal to pass anti-discrimination laws extends far beyond generating just one more negative headline for Ukraine. It undermines the two biggest factors that enabled the country to survive the horrors of the two previous years: Western support and the dream of European integration.
EU association is the issue that ignited Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution in November 2013. “Ukraine is Europe” was the rallying call for the hundreds of thousands who flocked to Kiev bearing EU flags following then-president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to go against the will of his people and cast Ukraine’s lot with Russia. Today, billions of dollars, over 2 million refugees and internally displaced persons, and thousands of lost lives later, a new group of politicians is once again dealing a blow to the dream of EU integration — all in the name of homophobia.
For more information, read the full article in Foreign Policy: “Ukraine Chooses Homophobia Over Europe.”
Ukraine: Weak response to attack on LGBTI rights defender (September 2015, 76crimes.com)
Police injured during clashes at Ukraine Pride march (June 7, 2015, Washington Blade)
Nine Ukrainian Officers Injured Protecting LGBT March (June 6, 2015, BuzzFeed)
- Lawmakers Urge Kyiv Mayor To Ban Gay Parades (June 2015, rferl.org)
- Amid Ukraine conflict, a new LGBT refugee safe house (June 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Anti-gay Russian lawmaker backs Ukraine rebels (June 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Ukraine: Pro- and anti-gay protests likely to clash May 25 (May 2013, 76crimes.com)
- Ukraine lawmakers seek ban on gay pride parades (May 2013, 76crimes.com)
- Ukraine’s anti-gay bills don’t derail visa relaxation (April 2013, 76crimes.com)
- Ukraine sends mixes signals about LGBT issues (March 2013, 76crimes.com)