The Ukrainian Parliament is currently examining three draft laws that will make it possible to prosecute hate crimes related to sexual orientation, gender identity or religious practice in the future.

The drafts are in response to an obligation under the “EU-Ukraine Association Agenda”(1), according to which such a law must be incorporated into the Ukrainian Criminal Code by the end of this year.

Hate crimes are becoming an increasingly pressing issue for Ukrainian society. Since early 2018, attacks on representatives of the queer community and ethnic groups have increased sharply. Violent acts include a series of pogroms in Roma settlements and the systematic disruption of human rights actions and peaceful gatherings dealing with gender and LGBTIQ* issues.


Resistance from pro-Russian camps and – “surprise” – Orthodox circles


However, representatives of the conservative pro-Russian camp and religious activists are trying to prevent the law from being passed: Shortly after deputies of the Ukrainian parliament presented bill 3316, deputy Oleh Voloschyn of the ultra-conservative pro-Russian opposition platform “For Life” submitted bill 3316-1.

The wording of Bill 3316-1 is identical to that of Bill 3316, only the terms ‘sexual orientation or gender identity’ have been replaced by ‘institution of the family or family values’.

The Ukrainian LGBTIQ* organisation Nash Mir warned in an open letter to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and members of the Ukrainian parliament against a targeted disinformation campaign. Religious activists, church lobbyists and representatives of the Ukrainian churches would deliberately spread untruths about the content and direction of the hate crime laws in order to prevent the law from being passed. They said that “only those who support traditional values and Russia are loud. The pro-European deputies remain silent,” the letter continued.

“For fear of losing face,” Dmytro Lubinets, the chairman of the parliamentary committee on human rights, and his colleagues had hurriedly presented two more drafts: Draft Laws 3316-2 and 3316-3, both of which are aimed at protecting the LGBTIQ* community and are supported by Nash Mir.


(1) “EU-Ukraine Association Agenda”: After months of (bloody) demonstrations against pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine experienced a pro-European revolution in 2014. The EuroMaidan revolution brought a new president, the pro-European Petro Poroshenko. He concluded negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union.

In March 2015, the Association Council created the “EU-Ukraine Association Agenda”. It is a roadmap for the implementation of the Association Agreement. While the Association Agreement only mentions “respect for human rights” (Article 14), the Association Agenda is more specific. The document explicitly calls on the Ukrainian government to “combat the increase in intolerance and the incidence of hate crimes”. In addition to racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism, homophobia is also explicitly mentioned as a reason for discrimination.

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