The parliament of Ukraine, where LGBTQ rights have been a divisive issue in the past, has unanimously approved a bill to ban online hate speech targeting people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Ukrainian lawmakers recently passed a bill that would ban hate speech and incitement based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The media regulation bill was unanimously approved on December 15.
“It’s a big step for Ukraine, to start adoption of our legislation to European values,” Olena Shevchenko, chair of Ukrainian LGBTQ and intersex rights group Insight, told The Washington Blade. “We hope our government will recognize LGBTQI people as equal as soon as possible.”
In August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indicated his support for same-sex civil partnerships and potentially same-sex marriage.
“All people are free and equal in their dignity and rights,” Zelensky said at the time. His comments came in response to an official petition to his office regarding the issue of legalized same-sex marriage. Zelensky noted that while Article 51 of the Ukrainian constitution states that, “marriage is based on the free consent of a woman and a man” and that the country’s constitution cannot be changed during the ongoing war with Russia, he directed Ukraine’s prime minister to look into the matter.
“I asked Prime Minister [Denys] Shmyhal to address the issue raised in the electronic petition and to inform me of relevant decisions,” he said.
“In the modern world, the level of a democratic society is measured, among other things, through state policy aimed at ensuring equal rights for all citizens,” Zelensky added.
Ukraine has banned employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity since 2015, and Zelensky promised that he would continue to fight anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination after he met with President Joe Biden at the White House last year.
The moves toward LGBTQ+ equality in Ukraine stand in contrast to Russia’s recent crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights. Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law expanding the country’s prohibition on LGBTQ+ “propaganda.” The law effectively outlaws any public expression of LGBTQ+ identity in Russia by banning “any action or the spreading of any information that is considered an attempt to promote homosexuality in public, online, or in films, books or advertising.”