Ukraine: UN LGBT expert urges resolve to promote tolerance and condemn hate

A UN expert says positive legal and policy developments to promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse people in Ukraine should be reinforced by a political leadership determined to ensure the right to freedom and equality.

Geneva, May 10, 2019.- The Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, said in a statement that societal views remain highly contaminated by stigma and public officers consider that sexual orientation and gender identity is not to be explored or talked about, arguing that ‘society is not ready’. LGBT persons themselves feel that keeping their identity concealed is a key to survival,” Madrigal-Borloz said at the end of his 11-day visit to the Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv regions. He said government should lead the way to ensure respect for the human rights of all persons through awareness, education, dialogue and empowerment.

The expert said that while he received no indication or gross or massive acts of individual violence against LGBT people in Ukraine, he is however concerned about extreme right-wing groups using violence and promoting hatred against LGBT people, as well as officers promoting harmful stereotypes and discrimination. He regretted the impunity for such crimes and the lack of public and unequivocal support for the rights of LGBT people by high-ranking government officials.

“I also regret the role of a group of churches that has actively worked to block legislation aimed at protecting the rights of LGBT people. To counter misinformation and to deconstruct harmful myths and stereotypes, the State should urgently undertake a nationwide educational campaign to foster understanding and tolerance instead of hate and prejudice,” Madrigal-Borloz said.

The expert met a wide range of stakeholders from Government and civil society, and many LGBT people shared with him life experiences and stories.

“The Ukrainian State is at a juncture where it can take significant action to recognise and embrace sexual and gender diversity. LGBT people are not the ‘others’, they are not ‘alien’ to Ukraine, they are your siblings, your children, your parents, and your neighbours. They are also your friends, your doctors and your elected officers. To that effect, I urge the Ukrainian authorities to effectively implement the measures foreseen in the National Human Rights Action Plan connected to sexual orientation and gender identity,” he said.

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