Ukrainian Ombudsman urges to toughen penalties for hate crimes on LGBT and to withdraw anti-gay laws

Submitted by All-Ukrainian LGBT Association Gay Forum of Ukraine

The Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Valeriia Lutkovska, recommends adding sexual orientation to the articles of the Criminal Code which provide for enhanced responsibility for crimes motivated by intolerance. It is mentioned in the annual report on the state of human and civil rights and freedoms in Ukraine published on the Ombudsman's website.

Currently the Criminal Code of Ukraine contains a number of articles, the responsibility for which is increased if the crime committed "under motives of racial, national, or religious intolerance" – in particular, Article 126 "Beatings and torture", Article 127 "Torture", Article 129 "Threat with Murder." Currently, the sanctions for these articles do not take into account the motive of homophobia as an aggravating circumstance.

The Ombudsman justifies her proposal in the annual report, "According to the monitoring of the Commissioner for Human Rights, cases of hate crimes and hate speech directed against the [...] LGBT community remain ordinary", and adds, "Recently, cases of openly impertinent attacks and physical violence against members of sexual minorities, particularly LGBT activists, have become more frequent." In particular, the Ombudsman appeals to the last year's cases of beatings of Ukrainian LGBT civil rights movement, Mr. Svyatoslav Sheremet (NGO Gay Forum of Ukraine) and Mr. Taras Karasiichuk (the Organizing Committee of the International LGBT Forum and Festival "KyivPride").

The position of the Commissioner is consonant with the opinion of Amnesty International in Ukraine, which in its 2013 report There Is No Reason to Be Proud of, dedicated to the problem of discrimination against LGBT people in Ukraine, said, “Amnesty International has documented several brutal attacks against LGBT people [...]. In some cases, such attacks have resulted in death.”

In addition to the proposals concerning the criminal law, the Ombudsman noted that she "could not but draw attention to a number of legislative proposals to ban "propaganda of homosexualism"." According to Ms. Lutkovska, the adoption of such laws in Ukraine "could lead to excessive restriction of rights (contrary to Article 22 of the Constitution)," and "restrictions on freedom of speech should not be realized in a discriminatory manner, as this would be contrary to Article 24 of the Constitution." The final recommendation of the Commissioner to the Parliament is "to remove these and similar laws from consideration."

On June 5 the annual report of the Commissioner for Human Rights was presented at a session meeting of the Ukrainian Parliament.

“The present report of Ombudsman Lutkovska differs revolutionarily from the previous reports of Ombudsman Karpachova. Then we were in a blacklist, and now the new Ombudsman has looked at our problems in human terms,” comments upon the position of the Commissioner Svyatoslav Sheremet, the head of the project "Empowering civil society to combat discrimination against LGBTI people in Ukraine" and leader of Gay Forum of Ukraine. “The criminal law of our country should be reformed. Lutkovska did well, she offered to add also sexual orientation, skin color, and disability to the grounds of racial, national or religious intolerance. We should make sure that the laws reflect real life."

According to the resolution of the European Parliament of 18 January 2006, "homophobia can be defined as an irrational fear of and aversion to homosexuality and to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people based on prejudice and similar to racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism and sexism."

of All-Ukrainian LGBT Association Gay Forum of Ukraine

June 6, 2013, Thursday

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