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Kyiv Pride march draws thousands

Event took place without violence

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Kiev, gay news, Washington Blade
(Photo by Jorge Franganillo via Flickr)

KYIV, Ukraine — Upwards of 7,000 people on Sunday took part in the Ukrainian capital’s annual Pride march.

The Associated Press reported Kyiv Pride participants, among other things, demanded the country’s lawmakers allow civil partnerships for same-sex couples and create a law against hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has introduced a measure that would make the country’s hate crimes law LGBTQ inclusive.

“We’ve grown tired of waiting for change and enduring systematic intimidation, pressure, disruption of peaceful events, attacks on activists and the LGBT community,” said Kyiv Pride in a statement to the Associated Press. “We demand changes here and now, as we want to live freely in our own country.”

The march took place less than a month after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly said his government will continue to fight discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“With U.S. support, Ukraine will continue to advance respect for human rights, civil liberties and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international standards and obligations, as well as to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community,” reads a joint statement the White House released on Sept. 1 after Zelenskyy met with President Biden. “Ukraine plans to strengthen accountability for violence against all persons regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political views, including through legislation.”

Far-right extremists in 2019 attacked several people who attended Kyiv Pride. Members of a Ukrainian nationalist group in 2015 injured nine police officers who had been deployed to an LGBTQ rights march that coincided with Kyiv Pride.  

Sunday’s march took place without violence.

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Eastern Europe

Ukraine president pledges to fight anti-LGBTQ discrimination

Volodymyr Zelenskyy with with Joe Biden on Wednesday

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Official Ukrainian Government Portrait )

WASHINGTON — The president of Ukraine on Wednesday said his country will continue to fight anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

“With U.S. support, Ukraine will continue to advance respect for human rights, civil liberties and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international standards and obligations, as well as to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community,” says a joint statement issued after Presidents Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy met at the White House. “Ukraine plans to strengthen accountability for violence against all persons regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political views, including through legislation.”

Members of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus last week urged Biden to raise LGBTQ rights with Zelenskyy.

The letter the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus sent to Biden on Aug. 25 noted Ukraine “has made significant strides on human rights generally, but has not been consistent on equality for LGBTQ+ people.”

“In particular, we are alarmed at the introduction of several bills in Ukraine’s parliament that would harm Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community,” reads the letter. “While these bills — which include criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity and punishment for homosexual or transgender ‘propaganda’ in the style of a harmful law in place in Russia — have failed to pass, we expect that they will continue to be introduced and to be a threat to Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community.”

The letter notes there has been violence at Pride parades in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and in other cities.

Wednesday’s statement did not note specific LGBTQ rights bills or initiatives, but the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus letter said the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has introduced a measure that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the country’s hate crimes law. The letter also notes Zelenskyy’s government “recently approved an action plan for the country’s updated National Human Rights Strategy, representing additional progress in the government’s plan to promote equality and human rights” that will promote gender equality and recognize hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Biden in February signed a memorandum that committed the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ rights abroad.

“Human rights and civil liberties, including for the LGBTQI+ community, is a priority for this administration in Ukraine and around the world,” a senior administration official told the Los Angeles Blade earlier this week. 

Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley, who spearheaded the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus statement, applauded the commitment to LGBTQ rights.

“While Ukraine has made significant strides on behalf of LGBTQ individuals, challenges still remain,” said the Illinois Democrat in a statement. “I was pleased to learn that President Biden and President Zelenskyy discussed some of these concerns during today’s meeting. I remain committed to advocating for LGBTQ+ rights around the globe because LGBTQ+ rights are human rights.”

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Eastern Europe

Hungarian Parliament approves Anti-LGBTQ law 157-1

“These proposals, which have dark echoes of Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda law”, will further stigmatize LGBTQI people.”

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (Screenshot via BBC World News)

BUDAPEST – Hungary’s National Assembly approved legislation Tuesday that prohibits sharing with anyone under the age of 18 any material that portrays or describes homosexuality or gender identity linking it to another legislative measure by amendment that purports to protect minors against paedophilia.

Fidesz, the conservative ruling party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, introduced the legislation and approved the bill in a 157-1 vote. One independent lawmaker voted against it. All other opposition parties boycotted the voting session in protest the Associated Press reported.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International had both denounced the measure, saying it was wrong to conflate LGBTQ people with paedophilia.

“These proposals, which have dark echoes of Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda law”, will further stigmatize LGBTI people, exposing them to greater discrimination in what is already a hostile environment,” David Vig, director of Hungary’s branch of Amnesty International told a massive crowd that assembled yesterday in front of the Parliamentarian building in Central Budapest.

“We have a lot to do before tomorrow’s vote: We have to tell, we have to write to every member of Parliament, why this bill is anti-child, anti-family and anti-human,” he added.

Lydia Gall, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said equating sexual and gender diversity with paedophilia hurt the dignity of LGBT people and risked putting them in danger.

Gall called the legislation “a cynical, distasteful and deliberate attempt by the Orban government to trample the rights of LGBT people and essentially make them invisible in Hungarian society.” 

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Eastern Europe

Thousands rally outside Hungary’s Parliament protesting anti-LGBTQ bills

A spokesperson at Human Rights Watch, said equating sexual and gender diversity with paedophilia hurt LGBTQ people and put them in danger.

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Hungarian Parliament (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

BUDAPEST – Over 5,000 people, LGBTQ activists and supporters along with human rights activists demonstrated in front of the Parliament in Budapest, angered by legislation banning any content portraying or promoting homosexuality or sex reassignment to anyone under 18. 

It is sponsored by Fidesz, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling conservative party and would essentially equate sexual and gender diversity people to paedophilia.

The legislation with its amendments is schedule for a vote Tuesday, June 15. The amendments would outlaw any depiction or discussion of different gender identity and sexual orientation in public, including in schools and the media. 

“These proposals, which have dark echoes of Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda law”, will further stigmatize LGBTI people, exposing them to greater discrimination in what is already a hostile environment,” David Vig, director of Hungary’s branch of Amnesty International told the crowd.

“We have a lot to do before tomorrow’s vote: We have to tell, we have to write to every member of Parliament, why this bill is anti-child, anti-family and anti-human,” he added.

Lydia Gall, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said equating sexual and gender diversity with paedophilia hurt the dignity of LGBT people and risked putting them in danger.

Gall called the legislation “a cynical, distasteful and deliberate attempt by the Orban government to trample the rights of LGBT people and essentially make them invisible in Hungarian society.” 

“That this should happen just weeks after Hungary took over the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe shows how brazen Viktor Orban’s government has become in using hateful populism to target minorities. The EU and its member states must demand that the Hungarian authorities remove these amendments from the bill before it goes to vote on 15 June,” Amnesty’s Vig, said.

The amendments require that all media content that “propagates homosexuality or portrays it” shall not be shown to children under 18, and commercials that show “diversion from one’s biological sex, change of gender, propagates or portrays homosexuality” shall not be made accessible to under-18s.

The amendments also require that TV and radio commercials that show “diversion from one’s biological sex, change of gender, propagates or portrays homosexuality” may only be shown between 10pm and 5am. Violators of this regulation could be fined, or have their broadcasting suspended.

The proposal also requires that human rights education courses in schools on ”sexual orientation” may only be held if they respect Hungary’s “constitutional identity” and its Christian culture and as long as they do not propagate consensual same-sex conduct or the affirming of one’s gender.

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