On March 15-16, 2016 international conference “Problems of LGBT and European Integration” took place in Kyiv. Experts of the Anti-Discrimination Center “Memorial” and Center for Civil Liberties held a joint presentation of their report “Analysis of LGBTI issues in the region of the conflict in eastern Ukraine: spread of homophobia from Russia to the territories beyond the control of Ukrainian government”.
The report stated significant deterioration of the situation of LGBTI persons and their exclusion from social and public life of this region. According to the authors of the report, homophobic rhetoric was actively spreading in the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), while this was supported by like-minded people from Russia. Experts pointed out that the authorities of these self–proclaimed republics have repeatedly made openly homophobic statements, thereby inciting hatred against LGBTI persons among ordinary people.
After having analyzed the laws of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, experts concluded that DPR’s homophobic law “On protection of children from information harmful to their health and development” was practically copied from the similar law of the Russian Federation, which had been internationally condemned. (A similar law has not yet been adopted in the self-proclaimed LPR, however a draft of the law exists there, too, which also had been copied from the Russian law). Constitutions of the two self-proclaimed republics do not contain overtly homophobic legal norms, but an earlier draft of the constitution of the self-proclaimed DPR contained a direct ban on same-sex marriages. Self-proclaimed LPR considered draft of a law introducing death penalty for homosexuality. Although this draft was not adopted, there were serious concerns about the possible actual killings of LGBTI persons, which could have taken place there. Attacks on various locations in DPR and LPR, where LGBTI persons had gathered, had been reported in the past and no places for meetings of LGBTI people exist in these regions today.
Violence against LGBTI persons continues to be one of the most dangerous and urgent problems: the emergence of armed groups in the region had significantly worsened the situation of LGBTI persons there. It was noted that transgender people faced particular difficulties when discrepancies between their appearances and information provided in their identification documents had been discovered.
Expert of the Center for Civil Liberties described the difficulties LGBTI persons encountered when trying to exit from the conflict region. Facts of double discrimination of LGBTI persons as internally displaced persons in the Ukraine have also been reported.
Conclusions provided by the report summarized the main problems of LGBTI persons in the region: homophobic legislation of the self-proclaimed republics; violence and threats by armed gangs; consequences of violence manifesting themselves in the persecution of LGBTI persons; difficulties and dangers facing LGBTI persons, who tried to enter other regions of Ukraine.