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LGBT groups say police are harassing gays in Ukraine

PinkNews Staff Writer April 23, 2009

More than 80 people who were arrested at a gay club in Kiev earlier this month by police had their human rights violated, it has been claimed.

The Council of LGBT Organisations of Ukraine said that the arrests were supposedly part of an investigation into the murder of a gay man, Dmitriy Kandyba.

“During the night of 10/11 April 2009 officers of the police special department “Berkut” held an operation in the popular city gay club Androgin,” the council said in a statement.

“Club visitors (over 80 persons) were detained and taken to Golosievo rayon police station.

“Some detainees reported rude and offensive treatment by the police officers and also claim that the officers used force against them.

“At the police station, the officers illegally (without following the respective procedures) took fingerprints and photos of the detained. After this the detainees were forced to sign a letter stating that they did not have any complaints against the police.

“It is particularly surprising that this raid was held two weeks after the murder.

“In addition, the police possessed a photo of the suspected criminal.

“Thus, in the opinion of the Ukrainian LGBT organisations, the goal of the operation in Androgin club was not to identify the personality of the murderer but to threaten the LGBT community and collect personal data on visitors to the gay club.”

The council said that similar incidents of police harassment of the gay community have been recorded.

In May 2008 LGBT groups in the Ukraine were prevented from marking the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) after a last minute intervention by local religious leaders.

The authorities told organisers that due to the likelihood of friction the programme of events would have to be cancelled.

While the Ukraine continues to stress its European credentials and seek EU membership, there are questions over its commitment to human rights.

MPs from the governing party have spoken out about “propaganda and expansion of homosexuality in the country form a threat to national security, contradict national interests and undermine the authority of rights and freedoms of human being and family.”

The Ukranian parliament’s Committee on the Issues of Freedom of Speech has attacked the “increasing propaganda” about gay and lesbian issues.

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.

More: Europe

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