In A Historic Step, Ukraine Passes Legal Protections for Nation’s LGBT Citizens

by Hayley Miller

Today, HRC hailed the passage of significant nondiscrimination legislation in the Ukrainian Parliament that will provide needed workplace protections for LGBT citizens and others throughout the country.

The bill, which introduces a new clause to Ukraine's Labor Code, aims to protect a wide range of people seeking to work free from discrimination and abuse in the country. The legislation was part of a series of reforms that the legislature, known as Verkhovna Rada, has been considering in order to establish visa-free travel throughout the European Union for its citizens.  Although the legislation met controversy and required several rounds of voting to pass, this decision is a demonstration of progress for LGBT equality in the nation.

“This is an important step forward for LGBT Ukrainians, and the nation’s leaders have affirmed that its LGBT citizens deserve the right to work without discrimination, harassment, or abuse,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global.  “We congratulate the LGBT activists, advocates, and their allies for this historic victory.”

"This is the first time in 25 years where LGBT people in Ukraine have legal protection from discrimination,” said Bogdan Globa, founder and executive director of Fulcrum, an LGBT rights advocacy organization in Ukraine.  “This vote proves that Ukraine can change, and must change, to welcome and protect its LGBT citizens.  The battle for full equality still lies ahead, and we will continue to work for protections from all form of discrimination as part of a free and democratic Ukraine with equal rights for all.”

Despite this legislation, the situation for LGBT Ukrainians continues to be fraught with violence and discrimination. This summer, LGBT activists in Ukraine were brutally beaten and attacked during Kiev’s annual Gay Pride Parade, and a month later two men were violently assaulted for merely holding hands in public.

The situation for LGBT people around the world varies widely. As some countries embrace equality, in others, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution, and violence.

·  19 countries now have marriage equality and in two countries same-sex marriage is legal in certain jurisdictions.

·  But in 10 countries worldwide, same-sex activity is punishable by death, and 75 countries criminalize same-sex relationships. Hundreds of transgender individuals have been brutally murdered in the last year.

·  In a growing number of countries, governments have sought to silence equality advocates and organizations with so-called “anti-propaganda” laws and legislation.

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