Bans on LGBTI Rallies Support Homophobia in Russia and Ukraine | Freedom House

Bans on LGBTI Rallies Support Homophobia in Russia and Ukraine

Washington

Freedom House condemns the banning of LGBTI rights events in Kyiv and Moscow planned for May 25 and calls on the governments in Ukraine and Russia to respect their citizens’ rights to free assembly.

Kyiv Pride 2013 was banned following a lawsuit by the Kyiv City Council seeking to bar all public demonstrations in the city center. Moscow authorities have likewise banned a Pride demonstration slated for the same day. Requests for permission to hold other Pride-related events in Moscow, including a Rainbow Rally in Moscow’s Gorky Park, were also rejected. The bans on these peaceful assemblies are clear violations of Ukraine and Russia’s international obligations to ensure the right to the freedom of assembly and the state’s inherent duty to provide adequate security for peaceful public assemblies.

The Kyiv City Council filed suit to quash nearly all public events in the city center on May 25, citing concerns that the authorities were unable to provide for security of attendees, in part because the city was also celebrating its annual city day holiday that day. When the Kyiv Pride organizers pointed out during the hearing that their event was planned for outside of the proposed ban area, government representatives sought a ban on events that included the specific location of the planned Kyiv Pride event. The Moscow authorities have similarly taken extraordinary steps to prevent any public demonstrations in support of the human rights of LGBTI persons, going as far as to forbid Pride marches in Moscow for the next 100 years. A request by organizers of the Moscow Rainbow Rally for security for their event was greeted with claims that their event would violate the rights of children and posed a “moral danger.”

“These bans are clearly aimed at preventing people from celebrating and asserting the human rights and dignity of LGBTI people,” said Chloe Schwenke, vice president for global programs at Freedom House. “The fact that the Ukrainian and Russian authorities are doing everything they can to prevent Pride events shows that homophobia, transphobia, and ignorance are ruling the day.”

LGBTI people, rights advocates, and supporters are regularly targeted with homophobic and transphobic violence in Ukraine and Russia by radical nationalist, xenophobic, and religious groups. Kyiv Pride 2012 was scuttled just before it was to begin after authorities indicated they were unwilling to protect attendees from threatened violence. Opponents of the human rights of LGBTI persons claim that homosexuality and gender non-conformity violates Ukrainian and Russian traditional values. This hateful sentiment is only fueled by efforts to outlaw so-called “propaganda of same-sex relations” and “propaganda of homosexuality” by the Ukrainian and Russian parliaments, and by widespread ignorance about the plight of transgender Ukrainians and Russians.

“The Ukrainian and Russian governments must allow LGBTI people and their advocates to assemble peacefully and safeguard against threats and violence. Without these protections, neither country can claim to be a tolerant place where everyone’s human rights are respected and protected without discrimination,” said Schwenke.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2013: Russia

Freedom in the World 2013: Ukraine

Freedom of the Press 2012: Russia

Freedom of the Press 2012: Ukraine

Blog: International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia 2013

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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