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From Parenthood to Legislation: Outcomes and Prospects of the Media Lunch Organised by PO “ALLIANCE.GLOBAL” on the Eve of IDAHOBIT

Vladyslav Fomin
Written by Vladyslav Fomin

Friends, today, 16 May 2024, on the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT), we got together for a media lunch organised by PO “ALLIANCE.GLOBAL” at the UKRINFORM editorial office.

It was an eventful and extremely important day when key LGBTIQ+ communities and media of Ukraine met to discuss issues of equality, non-discrimination, and inclusion.

One of the central topics of our discussion was the right of LGBTIQ+ people to parenthood. According to research, over 70% of LGBT people in Ukraine dream of becoming parents. However, current legislation significantly restricts access to adoption and surrogacy services for same-sex couples. Moreover, these services are currently available only to heterosexual couples in an official marriage, which is direct discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people and same-sex families.

We are convinced that the state must guarantee equal parental rights for all its citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. An influential step in this direction could be the adoption of the law on civil partnerships (№9103), which is currently under consideration by the Verkhovna Rada. Although it does not provide for the right to adoption for same-sex couples, it is already a significant breakthrough in the recognition and protection of our families.

Another important topic was the “Law on Media”, which came into force on 31 March 2023. It contains two important provisions on the prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). In particular, media may receive a warning or even lose their license for disseminating content that incites discrimination against LGBTIQ+.

We discussed our cases, in particular about “KRTV”. Previously, before the implementation of this law, activists of PO “ALLIANCE.GLOBAL” managed to shut down the TV channel “Kyivska Rus”. We achieved this through fruitful cooperation with the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting, where the fact of using hate speech on the TV channel’s live broadcast was proven. Now, armed with the “Law on Media”, not only we, but also any interested parties, can effectively protect themselves from discrimination thanks to this tool.

Speaking of media, we also analysed in detail the nuances of correct coverage of LGBTIQA+ topics. In particular, we emphasized the importance of not confusing sexual orientation and gender identity with mental disorders or paraphilias. SOGI are protected characteristics, natural manifestations of human sexuality and identity. Meanwhile, for example, pedophilia, with which right-wing radical and Orthodox-conservative forces constantly try to identify the LGBTIQ+ community, is classified in the International Classification of Diseases as a disorder. As we can see, “the devil is in the details”, or, to put it more simply, in the awareness and erudition of an individual person who appeals to such terms.

We also discussed the situation with hate crimes against LGBTIQ+ in Ukraine. Unfortunately, just since the beginning of 2024, more than five such incidents have already been recorded (at least four in Kyiv and one in Lviv). At the same time, often even people who do not belong to the LGBTIQ+ community become victims of attacks. But the saddest thing is that so far none of these cases has made significant progress. We hope that with the help of new legislation, in particular, draft law №5488, which proposes to introduce the concept of “intolerance” into the Criminal Code, and active actions of the Ombudsman’s Office, the situation will change for the better.

We also mentioned the Istanbul Convention, ratified by Ukraine last year. Although it aims to prevent violence against women and domestic violence, experts note that this document does not sufficiently consider the specific needs of LGBTIQ+ people. So there is still a lot of work ahead to adapt the convention to Ukrainian realities and extend its effect to all vulnerable groups.

But there are also reasons for moderate optimism. Over the past year, Ukraine has risen in the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Ranking, gaining 20% progress in the field of LGBTIQ+ rights. Of course, this is not yet a reason for triumph, but we are definitely ahead of Russia, which, with its homophobic state policy, found itself at the very bottom of the ranking with a shameful 2%. In addition, public opinion polls record a gradual increase in support for LGBTIQ+ rights in Ukrainian society. And this means that changes in people’s consciousness are taking place and gaining momentum.

And another important signal came from our international partners. The fresh US State Department report on human rights in Ukraine clearly states: further support for our country is closely linked to progress in the field of human rights, in particular LGBTIQ+. It is about ensuring equal access to medical services, investigating hate crimes, and moving towards marriage equality. And if we want to continue to feel the strong shoulder of our friends, we must listen to these recommendations and implement them.

In summary, we wish to emphasize: our today’s media lunch is not only a meeting of activists and journalists, but also another, persistent signal to the whole society that human rights, in particular LGBTIQ+, should be a priority of state policy right now. We can no longer postpone these issues for later because every day of delay costs someone their health, dignity, and every so often their very life.

As a society, we should understand an elementary, and at the same time, unpleasant truth. We are the state, and when demanding any changes, we must understand that no one but us is capable of implementing them. We have long shifted responsibility to an ephemeral construct called “government”, forgetting that we are the government.

“ARTICLE 5, CONSTITUTION OF UKRAINE. UKRAINE IS A REPUBLIC. The bearer of sovereignty and the sole source of power in Ukraine is the people. The people exercise power directly and through bodies of state power and bodies of local self-government.”

We can and have the right to demands and active actions that are carried out in the interests of our key communities. Having Ukrainian citizenship and aspiring to a European future, we must always remember this.

After all, it is with such values and hopes that we enter tomorrow’s Day of Struggle against Homo-, Bi- and Transphobia. Because in this struggle, we are all on the same side. On the side of humanity, dignity and mutual respect.

Happy holiday to all of us! And see you at new meetings on the path of change!

About the author

Vladyslav Fomin

Vladyslav Fomin