Ukraine: EU Negotiations Sideline LGBT Rights

Randy Potts

March 31st, 2014

On the cover of today’s The New Republic is this piece by Maxim Eristavi, who writes that gays and lesbians took a front and center role fighting on the maidan/main square of Kyiv but are now being sidelined by the revolutionary government and, according to multiple sources, by the EU as well.

But despite these aggressions, LGBT activists are in a tricky position when it comes to the revolution. When I approached revolutionary campaigner Bohdana Babich, whoposted about the attacks on the gay club on her Facebook page, she refused to speak with me, saying that I shouldn’t create “informational noise” at a time of a crisis in Ukraine. When a group of LGBT activists decided to support the revolution last year, they did so with the understanding that they would have to do so quietly. “A majority of LGBT activists decided to fully support and participate in the revolution, because European values are close to our values and goals,” said Bogdan Globa, a well-known local LGBT activist, in an interview with Hromadske TV in January. “But, at the same time, we decided not to use our rainbow flags in joining the protest, not to demand a special attention to us and to publicly demonstrate our concerns.”

The EU, for their part, is still saying publicly that they “prefer a solution whereby the law covers sexual orientation” but are dropping an outright demand for it during the negotiations.



March 31st, 2014

Given the overwhelming anti-lgbt sentiment in countries which were part of the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc, it would be folly for us to make lgbt rights a front-line issue in places like Ukraine. Right now the priority has to be supporting those who are advocating governmental forms and policies that are oriented towards the EU rather than Russia.


March 31st, 2014

Your argument makes sense, tristram, but it is a shame. When battling a common enemy LGBT groups kept their specific interests down-low to focus on the general corruption of the government. But now, some of those same revolutionaries are being side-lined by the same force they helped support. It is almost a shame they hid their rainbow flags. It probably wouldn’t have helped their revolution, but hind-sight would have recognized the value of their support, perhaps giving them better bargaining. Of course, if they manage to avoid the detrimental laws being considered by the former government, perhaps it can be seen as a net win for LGBT people, even if they don’t get specific protections either.


March 31st, 2014

I haven’t been following the situation in Ukraine as closely as I was before, but isn’t membership in the EU, which is what Ukraine is going for, correct?, based partially on not discriminating based on sexual orientation?


March 31st, 2014

Byron, “requirements” for membership are more flexible when it comes to an unpopular, politically weak minority versus the political gain of an ally against Russia and any economic perks they might bring.

Don’t ever think the US or Europeans will ever put the human rights of minorities like LGBT over financially/geopolitics convenient transactions.


March 31st, 2014

Byron/Lucrece – the threshhold question is whether Ukraine (or another slice of it after Crimea) is going to be invaded by and absorbed into Russia. Any area of the country that becomes part of Russia is going to be immunized against “Western influence” for decades to come. I think the lgbt activists in Ukraine understand that their only hope of achieving any measure of legal protection in the reasonably near future is to support the EU-oriented parties without alienating the anti-gay elements within them.

Joseph Singer

April 1st, 2014

So, despite G/L support for the revolution, the community is being thrown under the bus because it’s not “convenient” to stand up for our rights at this time, eh?


April 1st, 2014

@Joseph –

The difference between living the rest of one’s life under Putin and his Kossack enforcers vs. living it in a nation working towards EU membership is not an issue of “convenience.” Most of the Ukrainian lgbt community understands this all too well. Insisting that they wave their rainbow flags even if it means destroying their coalition – because it’s a matter of principle to us – is to throw them under the bus (or the tank, as will more likely be the case).

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