Current Affairs

Ukranian gays face fight with parliament

Tony Grew February 13, 2007
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The leader of Committee on Human Rights of the Ukrainian Parliament has called homosexual people “perverts” and said that a fight against them is needed.

Mr. Leonid Grach, a Communist, said last week that the state must protect society from evils, and then listed homosexuality and lesbianism.

Ukraine is seeking membership of the EU.

“Me and my colleagues in the Parliament have to defend society from infringements upon morality,” Mr Grach said.

“[we should] not admit into the consciousness and souls of people of any age the thought that the state is on the side of the people who are sowing debauchery, propagandising for dissoluteness, for sexual permissiveness, and for bringing the abomination of seduction into society.”

After similar comments last year, gay rights organisations wrote to the MP and asked him to show respect for the human rights of LGBT people.

However, it seems the old-school Communist is not interested.

58-year-old Grach worked in the fish-processing industry for over 20 years.

In 1991, he was elected the first secretary of the Crimea’s Communist Party Committee.

Peter Polyantsev, a sexual health campaigner in Ukraine, told

“We consider that such public statements by a high ranking politician, whose duty it is to protect human rights, are simply inadmissible in civilised democratic society.”

Mr Polyantsev asked that EU citizens contact their governments to highlight the situation.

“Demand from Ukrainian authorities that they observe and respect the rights of homosexual people equally with other members of broad society,” he said.

Since 1991 Ukraine, formerly part of the Soviet Union, has had an equal age of consent and homosexuality was decriminalised at that time.

However, there are no specific protections for LGBT minorities, and the country is generally dominated by the Orthodox church and is deeply socially conservative.

Only 15% of the population are supportive of the existence of gay couples.

However, like most countries, people who live in big cities such as Kiev tend to be more liberal.

President Viktor Yushchenko supportive of gay rights, but they are not a priority for the government.

Mr Grach’s statement that: “homosexuality is an anomaly, which is caused by the amorality and the depravity of man,” echoes the sentiments of a Russian MP who is trying to change the law.

Maverick independent Deputy Nikolay Kuryanovich brought forward legislation yesterday that would reinstate communist-era laws banning homosexuality entirely.

His controversial measure is viewed as a publicity stunt and has virtually no chance of becoming law.

It takes place against the backdrop of the controversy surrounding last year’s Pride march in Moscow.

As reported on, in May 2006 the city’s mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, refused to issue a permit for the Pride march.

Gay activists pressed on with Moscow Pride on 27th May, despite the ban, police arrests, and violence from neo-fascists, right-wing nationalists and Orthodox Christian fundamentalists.

Last month, Pride organisers lost their appeal at Moscow City Court against the ruling of a lower court that upheld the city’s ban on the event.

“An application to the European Court of Human Rights is now ready and is currently being assessed by legal experts,” said Nikolay Alekseyev, one of the Pride organisers.

The Russian Federation reiterated yesterday that peaceful demonstrations in support of gay rights must be allowed to take place and can only be stopped when there is a danger of disorder which cannot be prevented by reasonable force.

Maxim Anmeghichean, of gay rights group ILGA Europe, stressed the need to follow up Russia’s rhetoric with action.

“What really matters is whether they take concrete actions, ensuring freedom of assembly, responding to acts of violence, and promoting awareness of the rights of the LGBT community,” he said.

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