Violation of LGBTI Rights in Crimea and Donbass: The Problem of Homophobia in Territories Beyond Ukraine’s Control

The human rights report was prepared with support from the Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)

Dozens of witnesses to the events of recent years in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine were interviewed for this report. Many of them spoke about the persecution of sexual and gender minorities, the prevailing atmosphere of fear, lack of openness, and uncertainty, and the impossibility of coming out even to close friends or of trusting the LGBTI community. In this war-torn region, people’s lives are in constant danger, and this danger is multiplied many times over for members of the LGBTI community due to the open homophobia exhibited by armed people, orders and rules issued by members of the local “government,” and the influence of Russian laws restricting minority rights and banning “gay propaganda.” This report analyzes both Ukrainian laws and Russian laws (which have been introduced de-facto in occupied Ukraine) regarding family, labor, and other minority rights, as well as recent “legislative acts” promulgated in the self-proclaimed DNR and LNR.

The report concludes that the situation for members of the LGBTI community in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine has worsened significantly over the past two years. Activists have been forced to leave the area or stop working with their organizations, and the members of sexual and gender minorities who remain have been subjected to constant discrimination and face exposure, persecution, isolation, stigmatization, and even criminalization. LGBTI adolescents and families with children and transgender people are in the most vulnerable positions.

ADC Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties would like the thank all the people who helped them gather information by speaking about their lives and sharing their experiences and impressions: through your courage, trust, and support for human rights work, you have made an important contribution to the writing of this report. We would especially like to thank the NGOs Insight and Gay Forum Ukraine.