Martial Law in Ukraine: What could it mean for the LGBTI-community?

Today, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will ask the Parliament to introduce the martial law. His demand came after the attack on 3 Ukrainian military ships in the Kerch Strait by the Russian army. 

Clearly, the LGBTI-movement has not been very visible in countries where the martial law was/is in force.

During the martial law in the Philippines, LGBTI-people were structurally being prosecuted. Any pro-LGBTI-propaganda was prohibited, but the publication of an anti-gay book was allowed (Neil C Garcia, 2009).

In case of Taiwan, it is clear that the LGBTI-community’s political demands were only up to debate since the abolition of the martial law. Nonetheless, it should be noted that homosexuals always have been present in popular culture (Chi Ta-wei, 2017).

No Pride anymore?

KyivPost listed all the possible measures that can be taken by the President with the approval of the Parliament if the martial law is in force. Two of them could disproportionally affect the LGBTI-movement.

  1. A ban on peaceful protests, marches, gatherings, and other mass events.”: This could lead to the restriction on LGBTI Prides.
  2. The state could regulate telecommunications, radio, and printing companies and infrastructure; mass media; and cultural organisations for wartime needs. Restrictions could be placed on amateur radio and the transmission of information through computer networks. That state can also use this infrastructure to spread information aimed at the military and/or the population.”: This directly affect the equal and just distribution of information about the LGBTI-community in Ukraine and indirectly lead to a rise in discrimination.
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A participant of the 2018 Equality March in Kyiv holding a sign in support of both the LGBTI-movement and the Ukrainian Army. (Picture provided by Nash Mir)

Nash Mir’s Andrii Kravchuk tells Rémy Bonny that the Ukrainian LGBTI-community shares the common feelings and intentions of all Ukrainian society: “we have to be united in our combat against the common enemy.”.

Kravchuk continues: “We still cannot say which provisions of martial law will be effected in practice and how long it will last – it all has to be indicated in a presidential decree that has not been issued yet.

Obviously, this restriction on public events may apply only to open events outdoors, not to meetings indoors such as workshops, trainings, conferences, etc.

In practical sense, it will not hamper LGBT activity seriously – the only really important open LGBTI events in Ukraine are the Equality Marches in Kyiv and some other cities, but they are traditionally held in summer. It is rather unlikely that martial law will last so long.”, Kravchuk concludes.

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Ulyana Mocvhan (© Rémy Bonny)

In a reaction by Insight‘s spokesperson Ulyana Movchan to Bonny, she is less positive about the possible introduction of the martial law. “It would not be possible to hold our Equality Festival in December – an art festival about various communities, including LGBT.

Also it could be a growth of far right movements as they get a justification of their actions because of war.

Progress?

Since the EuroMaidan revolution in 2013, Ukraine is being governed by a pro-European political elite. Since the introduction of several agreements with the European Union (EU) some legal steps forward are taken. A National Action Plan on Human Rights was adopted in 2015 – including anti-discrimination legislation concerning sexual minorities in the labour code (Bonny, 2018).

Despite the safeguarding of big and well-organised Pride events, low-scale LGBTI-events seem to become subject of attacks by the nationalists. Somehow, these nationalistic groups are getting support by the Kyiv based government for their support in the fight against the pro-Russian separatists in the East of Ukraine (Bonny, 2018).

One can predict that the recent uprising between Russia and Ukraine will increase the political power of the far-right nationalists in Ukraine.

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Donbass News shared a video on their Twitter showing far-rights gathering on Maidan – Kyiv’s main square – on Sunday.

 

Earlier research shows that the commitment towards LGBTI-rights in Ukraine is high. Sources within the European External Action Service (EEAS) confirmed to Bonny that the EU would withdraw from its agreements with Ukraine if there would be serious backlashes concerning the LGBTI-community (Bonny, 2018).

Cautious

A martial law in Ukraine must be handled with a lot caution by the LBGTI-society. Of course, the LGBTI-community needs to support the Ukrainian government in their fight against the Russian aggression. At the other hand, previous research shows that the situation for the LGBTI-community  is still very vulnerable. Especially, the possible gains in power by the far-right nationalists can eventually lead to a backlash in the rights for the LGBTI-community.

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