Ukraine passes LGBTQ hate speech ban in ‘big step’ for equality

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has united the country’s queer community and created opportunities to dismantle systemic homophobia.

Ukraine passes LGBTQ hate speech ban in ‘big step’ for equality

Ukraine has passed a bill banning hate speech against LGBTQ+ people in the media.

The legislation, banning hate speech and incitement based on sexual orientation and gender identity, was unanimously approved on 15 December, LGBTQ Nation reported.

“It’s a big step for Ukraine, to start adoption of our legislation to European values,” Olena Shevchenko, chair of Ukrainian LGBTQ+ rights group Insight, told The Washington Blade.

“We hope our government will recognise LGBTQI people as equal as soon as possible.”

The bill comes after the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, confirmed that he will ask Ukraine’s government to look into legalising same-sex marriage after the war with Russia ends.

Over the summer, a petition calling for the legalisation of marriage equality in Ukraine gained more than 28,000 signatures, passing the 25,000 threshold required for it to be considered by the president.

The petition cited Ukraine’s constitution, which states that “all people are free and equal in their dignity and rights”, and that “human rights are inalienable and inviolable”.

Zelensky formally responded, claiming: “I asked prime minister [Denys] Shmyhal to address the issue raised in the electronic petition and to inform me of relevant decisions.”

However, he noted that no changes could be made to the constitution – which defines marriage as between a man and a woman – while the war with Russia was ongoing.

According to Article 157 of the Constitution of Ukraine: “In conditions of war or a state of emergency, the Constitution of Ukraine cannot be changed.”

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Ukraine?

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Ukraine? Let’s take a look at some of the key equality indicators.

Is homosexuality legal in Ukraine?

Same-sex sexual activity was illegal in Ukraine – under the criminal code that was operated by the Soviet Union.

In 1991 the law was changed, which effectively removed the criminalisation of gay sex.

Are there anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ people in Ukraine?

The position regarding discrimination protection in Ukraine is a bit confusing.

In 2015 the country enacted an anti-discrimination law that protects people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However it is clear that this was passed reluctantly as a requirement for Ukraine to move forward in its negotiations with the European Union.

In 2016 the Ukrainian parliament failed to back the Istanbul Convention (a European hate crimes law) because of its references to sexual orientation and gender).

Is there Marriage Equality in Ukraine?

There is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

The constitution explicitly defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Ukraine?

Ukraine is a very religious, and socially conservative country.