Ukraine Ombudsman Calls for LGBT Hate Crime Laws

velariya lutkovska

The Ukrainian Parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights has called for LGBT status to be added to the country’s hate crime laws and for an end to attempts to ban so-called ‘homosexual propaganda.’

Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights Valeriia Lutkovska has called for lawmakers to add LGBT status to laws in the country’s criminal code which see greater responsibility placed on perpetrators who commit crimes motivated by intolerance.

Lutkovska made the call in an annual report on the state of human and civil rights and freedoms in Ukraine published on the Commissioner’s website.

Currently the Penal Code of Ukraine contains a number of articles which increase responsibility on perpetrators if the crime is committed ‘under motives of racial, national, or religious intolerance’ – in particular, Article 126 covering ‘beatings and torture,’ Article 127 covering ‘Torture,’ and Article 129 which covers ‘threats with murder.’

Currently these articles do not take into account anti-LGBT motives as an aggravating factor.

Lutkovska made the proposal in her annual report, writing ‘According to the monitoring of the Commissioner for Human Rights, cases of hate crimes and hate speech directed against the … LGBT community remain commonplace [in Ukraine] adding, ‘Recently, cases of openly impertinent attacks and physical violence against members of sexual minorities, particularly LGBT activists, have become more frequent.’

Lutkovska singled out last year’s beatings of Ukrainian LGBT activists Svyatoslav Sheremet from the Gay Forum of Ukraine and Taras Karasiichuk – a member of the organizing committee for Kiev Pride.

Lutkovska’s concern is shared by Amnesty International in Ukraine, who’s 2013 report ‘There Is No Reason to Be Proud,’ was dedicated to the problem of discrimination against LGBT people in Ukraine.

‘Amnesty International has documented several brutal attacks against LGBT people … In some cases, such attacks have resulted in death,’ their report read.

Lutkovska also made known her concerns about attempts to ban public discussion of LGBT issues, writing that she ‘could not but draw attention to a number of legislative proposals to ban “propaganda of homosexualism.”’

Lutkovska wrote that the adoption of such laws in Ukraine ‘could lead to excessive restriction of rights contrary to Article 22 of the Constitution,’ and ‘restrictions on freedom of speech should not be realized in a discriminatory manner, as this would be contrary to Article 24 of the Constitution.’

The final recommendation of the Commissioner to the Parliament was ‘to remove these and similar laws from consideration.’

The annual report of the Commissioner for Human Rights was presented at a meeting of the Ukrainian Parliament on June 5.

Lutkovska’s report and suggestions were welcomed by Ukrainian LGBT activists.

‘The present report of Ombudsman Lutkovska differs revolutionarily from the previous reports of Ombudsman Karpachova,’ Gay Forum of Ukraine leader Svyatoslav Sheremet said.

‘Then we were on a blacklist, and now the new Ombudsman has looked at our problems in human terms.’

‘The criminal law of our country should be reformed. Lutkovska did well – she offered to add also sexual orientation, skin color, and disability to the grounds of racial, national or religious intolerance. We should make sure that the laws reflect real life.’

Sheremet is also running a project entitled ‘Empowering civil society to combat discrimination against LGBT people in Ukraine.’

Gay Solidarity activist Clare Dimyon MBE who has been campaigning to improve LGBT rights in the former Soviet Union said the Commissioner’s report was groundbreaking for a former Soviet state.

‘This is a significant breakthrough for LGBT people in Ukraine and other states of the former Soviet Union,’ Dimyon wrote.

‘I shall be writing to Ms Lutkovska to welcome her recommendations and thank her for her intervention, which I know will come as a great relief to LGBT people I have met in Ukraine. That includes one young man who called me in the immediate aftermath of a homophobic attack while I was in Ukraine last year for the Euro2012 Football Championships.’