Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The national peculiarities of homophobia in Ukraine

International Day Against Homophobia, Kherson, Ukraine
Source: Ukraine Watch

By Tamara Martsenyuk

In Ukraine lately sexual identity issue is widely used to raise questions about morality, demography, and even national threat. One of the largest fighters “for moral cleanliness of the Ukrainian society and against propaganda of perversion” is so called “movement” Love against Homosexuality (LAH). Its leader, famous journalist Ruslan Kukharchuk in his blog in “Ukrainian Pravda” provokes discussions based on hatred. Moreover, after All-Ukrainian Union “Council of LGBT Organisation of Ukraine” has been registered, LAH sent statement to President of Ukraine and Minister of Justice: “homosexuality is acquired phenomenon and it does not have genetic nature, its dissemination is caused by a number of factors, particularly by propaganda”.

According to LAH opinion, “dissemination of homosexuality contradicts national interests of Ukraine”, leads to HIV/AIDS dissemination, demographic crisis intensification, family institution destruction, narrowing of citizens’ constitutional rights, and freedom of religion elimination. The similar arguments against homosexuality are chosen by Party “Svoboda” that in December 2010 hold an action against homosexuality.

Homosexuality and homosexual people are used as “common enemy” to unite young people and distract from urgent social issues, poverty, corruption, etc. In March 2011 protest against propaganda of homosexuality and juvenile justice has been conducted by Lviv NGOs and young people (students unions, Student government of Lviv and Student Mayor of Lviv). Definitely, important economic and political issues for young people to protest!

Finally some Ukrainian politicians provided example of fight for “morality” of Ukrainian society and against “threat to national security.” While Ukraine had ratified numerous international and European legal acts on human rights, including UN Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, on 20 June 2011 Members of Parliament have registered a draft Law “On Introduction of Changes to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine (Regarding Protection of Children Rights on the Safe Information Sphere)”, giving such rationale:
“The draft law ….. is designed to strengthen protection from homosexual propaganda in Ukraine and establish the legal framework for the prosecution of violations of the laws which protect public order and morality in Ukrainian society. The spread of homosexuality is a threat to national security, as it leads to an epidemic of HIV / AIDS, destroys the institution of the family and can cause a demographic crisis.” 
The draft law seeks to achieve this objective through amendments of five laws addressing protection of public morals, regulation of the media/publishing, and the criminal code. In each case this is done through simply adding either “the promotion of homosexuality” or “the production/distribution of products which promote homosexuality” to the list of prohibited activities in the legislation.

Now it is difficult to say how much support the draft law will receive. MP members who worry a lot about “morality of society” may push it forward without any doubt. It will be considered first by the Parliamentary Committee on freedom of speech and information, and by the Scientific and Expert Department of the Parliament.  It would then go to a first hearing, probably in the autumn 2011. And in case the law is adopted it automatically strengthen the censorship making problematic even to teach at the University on gender and sexuality in courses on gender studies and violate LGBT rights in Ukraine.

Tamara Martsenyuk, PhD in Sociology, is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.
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