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Ukraine: UN LGBT expert urges resolve to promote tolerance and condemn hate

Russian | Ukranian

KYIV (10 May 2019) – A UN expert says positive legal and policy developments to promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse people in Ukraine should be reinforced by a political leadership determined to ensure the right to freedom and equality.

The Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, said in a statement that societal views remain highly contaminated by stigma and public officers consider that sexual orientation and gender identity is not to be explored or talked about, arguing that ‘society is not ready’. LGBT persons themselves feel that keeping their identity concealed is a key to survival,” Madrigal-Borloz said at the end of his 11-day visit to the Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv regions. He said government should lead the way to ensure respect for the human rights of all persons through awareness, education, dialogue and empowerment.

The expert said that while he received no indication or gross or massive acts of individual violence against LGBT people in Ukraine, he is however concerned about extreme right-wing groups using violence and promoting hatred against LGBT people, as well as officers promoting harmful stereotypes and discrimination. He regretted the impunity for such crimes and the lack of public and unequivocal support for the rights of LGBT people by high-ranking government officials.

“I also regret the role of a group of churches that has actively worked to block legislation aimed at protecting the rights of LGBT people. To counter misinformation and to deconstruct harmful myths and stereotypes, the State should urgently undertake a nationwide educational campaign to foster understanding and tolerance instead of hate and prejudice,” Madrigal-Borloz said.

The expert met a wide range of stakeholders from Government and civil society, and many LGBT people shared with him life experiences and stories.

“The Ukrainian State is at a juncture where it can take significant action to recognise and embrace sexual and gender diversity. LGBT people are not the ‘others’, they are not ‘alien’ to Ukraine, they are your siblings, your children, your parents, and your neighbours. They are also your friends, your doctors and your elected officers. To that effect, I urge the Ukrainian authorities to effectively implement the measures foreseen in the National Human Rights Action Plan connected to sexual orientation and gender identity,” he said.

ENDS

Mr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz (Costa Rica) assumed the role of UN Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for a three years period starting on 1 January 2018. He serves as the Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), a global network of over 150 rehabilitation centres with the vision of full enjoyment of the right to rehabilitation for all victims of torture and ill treatment. A member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture from 2013 to 2016, Mr Madrigal-Borloz was Rapporteur on Reprisals and oversaw a draft policy on the torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI persons. Prior to this he led technical work on numerous cases, reports and testimonies as Head of Litigation and Head of the Registry at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has also worked at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen, Denmark) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (San José, Costa Rica). 

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
In Ukraine (during the visit): Iryna Yakovlieva (+38 050 386 80 69- iyakovlieva@ohchr.org)
In Geneva (after the visit): Catherine de Preux De Baets (+41 22 917 93 27 - cdepreuxdebaets@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org