LGBT Conditions Worsen in Russia, Crimea and Ukraine

LGBT Conditions Worsen in Russia, Crimea and Ukraine

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26a2f75f8ff9a001480f6a7067007d96The Crimean crisis has led to increased tensions for LGBT individuals in Ukraine, the territory of Crimea, and Russia.

Following the Russian annexation of Crimea, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are now subject to the Russian anti-propaganda law. In application of the law, authorities in Sebastopol banned the Pride march, which was due to take place April 22-23, 2014.

Vitaly Milonov, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg and co-author of the St. Petersburg anti-propaganda law, called for further measures to “eradicate the experimental practice of sodomy.”

He suggested cracking down on LGBT organizations and clubs, setting up a “morality police,” and restricting the use of online social media in relation to LGBT issues.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup and Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, reacted: “The spread of these ‘anti-propaganda’ laws and the calls for further discriminatory restrictions are truly worrying.”

“It shows these laws started a dangerous trend of fear mongering and inciting hatred, whereby some wrongly think that it’s alright to restrict the rights of a group they dislike. The EU and the Council of Europe need to maintain pressure on Russian authorities.”

Ukraine

In the meantime, the Ukrainian government withdrew a bill which would have banned discrimination in the workplace, only to re-introduce the same bill without sexual orientation as a protected ground.

The European Commission’s report of November 2013 recalled that anti-discrimination measures, including sexual orientation, are a condition for visa liberalization with the EU.

United States Press Secretary Jay Carney issued the following statement on April 24:

The United States has taken further action today in response to Russia’s continued illegal intervention in Ukraine and provocative acts that undermine Ukraine’s democracy and threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.  At the contact group meeting in Geneva on April 17, 2014, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union decided on a number of steps to deescalate the situation in eastern Ukraine, including refraining from further violence or provocative acts.   Since April 17, Russia has done nothing to meet its Geneva commitments and in fact has further escalated the crisis.  Russia’s involvement in the recent violence in eastern Ukraine is indisputable.

The United States made clear it would impose additional costs on Russia if it failed live up to its Geneva commitments and take concrete steps to deescalate the situation in Ukraine.  Consequently, today the United States is imposing targeted sanctions on a number of Russian individuals and entities and restricting licenses for certain U.S. exports to Russia.  The Department of the Treasury is imposing sanctions on seven Russian government officials, including two members of President Putin’s inner circle, who will be subject to an asset freeze and a U.S. visa ban, and 17 companies linked to Putin’s inner circle, which will be subject to an asset freeze.  In addition, the Department of Commerce has imposed additional restrictions on 13 of those companies by imposing a license requirement with a presumption of denial for the export, re-export or other foreign transfer of U.S.-origin items to the companies.  Further, today the Departments of Commerce and State have announced a tightened policy to deny export license applications for any high-technology items that could contribute to Russia’s military capabilities.  Those Departments also will revoke any existing export licenses that meet these conditions.

The international community has been unified in its position that Russia must cease its illegal intervention and provocative actions in Ukraine.  The United States, working closely with its partners, remains prepared to impose still greater costs on Russia if the Russian leadership continues these provocations instead of de-escalating the situation, consistent with its Geneva commitments.  The executive order signed by the President on March 20, 2014, authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on individuals and entities operating in key sectors of the Russian economy, such as financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense.  If there is further Russian military intervention in Ukraine, we are prepared to sanction entities under this authority.

recent report by NASH MIR Center, a Ukrainian LGBT organization, reveals that homophobia, transphobia and violence against LGBT people are still widespread.

Claude Moraes MEP, Rapporteur on Ukraine and Member of the LGBT Intergroup, reacted: “It is extremely worrying that Ukraine’s government seems unwilling to adopt legislation that would ensure protection from discrimination to all people at work. LGBT people still face discrimination in every single area of life, and clearly need basic legal protection.”

“The European Parliament’s position has always been clear on this.  Further visa liberalization measures must go hand in hand with the adoption of anti-discrimination measures by the Verkhovna Rada as agreed, including sexual orientation.”

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