On May 29th defenders of traditional family values picketed the Ombudsman office. They demanded Ms. Oksana Filipishina – a civil servant of the office – to be fired. They blame her for defending LGBT rights. Why would some Ukrainians send such a negative message towards it?
16 petitions against gay people
This story began on January 26th 2018, when Mr. Victor Tantsiura, the Chairman of the Board of the Association of the Missionary Churches of Evangelical Christians of Ukraine (AMCECU) registered the petition “On the family values defense” on the President and the Cabinet of Ministries (the Government of Ukraine) websites. This document claims: “with the aim of defending and developing the family institution and increasing morality of Ukrainian society to draft and introduce the bill into the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament of Ukraine) as a matter of urgency. This bill calls for prohibition of propaganda and promotion of different kinds of deviant sex behavior and anti-family ideas, particularly in the forms of so called “equality marches”, “prides”, “gay parades”, “queer culture festivals” and connected materials in media.”
In the meantime, there are 16 similar petitions on the website now. “I am a citizen of Ukraine,” writes Mrs. Alina Kushnir-Rets, who managed to collect 1053 votes, “I don’t want to change my own principles and beliefs. I want my son to live in a healthy community, not in the one, which is infected with homosexual ideas. I’m against this law. I wish Ukraine didn’t end as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.” As we can see, some people protest against gay parades, considering them a threat to a traditional family. Sometimes they even group together.
In January 2017 a non-governmental organization “Vsi razom” (“All together”) brought out a colorful brochure: “Ukrainian family is being cut,” where it not only repeats everything which Mr. Tantsiura has claimed, but also adds many more requirements. For example, it demands “The Action Plan to Implement the National Human Rights Strategy of Ukraine by 2020” to be changed. In opinion of Mr. Ruslan Khuharchuk, the Head of the organisation, the norms and values, which lead Ukraine to “the negative standards of the European Union”, need to be cut out of the document.
On March 27th in 30 days before the deadline of Mr. Tantsiura petition, it disappeared from the President website. It turned out, that the petition was taken away upon the demand of Ms. Oksana Filipishina, the Representative of the Commissioner for observance of the rights of the child, non-discrimination and gender equality. Ms. Filipishina believes that this petition “trenches upon rights and freedoms of citizens. That means it violates the Article 23 of the Citizens’ Appeals Law of Ukraine.”
«One person’s liberty and rights end at the edge of another’s,” she said.
But after a while, Mr. Tantsiura’s petition reappeared on the website and managed to gain necessary 25 000 votes. Obviously, it has been done to let President Poroshenko express his attitude towards such petitions. It happened on May 25th. The President said: “Our public commitment is to build a tolerant, democratic and European community in Ukraine.” He also added: “Every obliged steadily is not to trench upon rights freedoms, honor and dignity of other people,” (Article 68 of the Constitution of Ukraine). What is more, parts one and two of the Article 24 of the Constitution report: «Citizens have even constitutional rights and freedoms and are even before a law. It cannot be privileges or limitations after the signs of race, color of skin, political, religious and other persuasions, floor, ethnic and social origin, property state, place of residence, after linguistic or other signs.” That means that there is no possibility in Ukraine for the advocates of traditional values to ban gay parades, which they resent to such an extent.
In 4 days about 20 members of “Vsi razom” organization gathered by the Ombudsman’s office. They brought protest signs against LGBT and Ms. Oksana Filipishina. The protest was headed by Ruslan Khuharchuk, the leader of the organization. He was chanting the slogans: “Stop Filipishina”, “Children have the right for a mother and a father”.
In a while, the representatives of human rights organizations came up. Mr. Khuharchuk called them “perverts” and then gave them an “educational lecture”. “The most of gays and lesbians didn’t have a father or they were raped in the childhood, – he said, – or they have a traumatic sexual and psychological background. These people need medical and therapeutic care. The government must provide them such a treatment. Besides, there were some men noticed who introduced themselves as members of the “Right Sector” organization far-right Ukrainian nationalist political party and movement). They attacked the human rights activists and took their sign away.
Oleksandra Romantsova – a coordinator of the Center for Civil Liberties – who was present at the protest, considered absurd the demand of Mr. Khuharchuk and his followers to fire Ms. Filipishina. “We came here to demand the Labour Code to be implemented. A person can’t be fired only because he or she performs his or her work,” said Romantsova. “I believe the Ombudsman’s office should support Ms. Oksana Filipishina and state that she won’t be fired for defending human rights.”
Mr. Yuri Shpyrnyi, a former activist of the “Liubov proty homoseksualizmu” (“Love against homosexuality”) organization also mentioned the Constitution of Ukraine, particularly the Article 51. It says: “Marriage is based on the free consent of woman and man. “ Shpyrnyi believes that the Constitution defines what sexes exactly must a family consist of. And one can’t violate the basic law. But is it really so?
Ms. Olena Uvarova – a national consultant for gender issues in UN Women in Ukraine organization says that the Constitution doesn’t forbid homosexual or any other non-traditional relationships. The basic law just specifies what a marriage should be like. “We must feel the difference between a sexual relationship and a marriage,” Olena says, “One can have relationship but also can be not married. Ukraine doesn’t have such an act which forbids homosexual relationship. But only heterosexual couples can get married. That’s why there’s a proposition to provide a civil partnership in Ukraine. It won’t contradict to the Article 51 of the Constitution.”
What is the use of civil partnership for LGBT?
Some people advocate for a civil partnership to be introduced into the Ukrainian legislation. It means that there could be two separate types of formal relationships: a marriage for a man and a woman, and a civil partnership for people of one sex. This is a common experience in the European countries. It exists within international and European documents on human rights defense and is recognized by the European Court of Human Rights. But it is exactly the legalization of the civil partnership which the organizations “Vsi Razom” and AMCECU oppose. Then how come they’re against it?
In what a particular way do LGBT threaten Ukrainian families? It is the question for Mr. Victor Tantsiura – the author of the petition. The AMCECU Chairman of the Board named the following threats to a traditional family from LGBT:
- Gays impose their beliefs upon the society. They teach children that homosexuality is OK. It is the reason why more and more people become gays and lesbians. Fortunately, Ukraine hasn’t legislated civil partnership yet, that’s why gays here haven’t started to destroy traditional families so far.
Does it make sense? Medical experts deny it. “If children learn about LGBT it won’t make them gays or lesbians,” says Natalia Ktytarova – a pediatric genealogist of the Center for primarily healthcare #3 in the town of Kamianske, ”When we tell children that LGBT is Ok and about a human right to free choice of sexual behavior, we take into account a tolerant attitude to these people. The choice to have homo- or heterosexual relationship is before every single individual. This also has impact on the harmonic relationship within a family a child has been growing in, as well as on the child’s performance in the society. Sometimes it’s about looking for a community where you can be understood and loved just for what you are. If a family have values (they respect, love, understand and treat well each other) it doesn’t matter whether this is a same-sex marriage. I think that the problem is exaggerated.”
- Gays in Australia are 44 times as likely to have AIDS as “usual” people. In the EU gays have AIDS dozens of times as frequently as non-gays. Ukraine has the highest rate among countries with increasing AIDS infections, and this condition will spread much more because of gays. Apart from that, a Swedish priest who called a homosexuality a sin, was put to prison.
Is there a sense in claiming that LGBT have AIDS more often? It is not exactly about all people who have non-traditional sex, but anyway, some researches are constantly being carried out. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 67% of people diagnosed with HIV in 2015 in the United States were gay and bisexual men. Now in the USA there are more than 600 000 gays and bisexuals with HIV, which estimates 2% of the U.S. population, and accounted for about 70% of new HIV infections.
It means that people who have unprotected anal sex are at high risk for HIV. However, this statistic concerns the USA. And what about Ukraine?
UNAIDS experts say that about 240 000 people in Ukraine are infected with HIV. In 2017, 64% of infected Ukrainians received HIV by having unprotected sex. 3% and 61% of them got it through having homosexual and heterosexual contacts respectively.
At first sight, Mr. Tantsiura is right: the USA has more HIV infected gays than Ukraine. And what about Russia that has a “gay propaganda law”? Is there a rate of HIV infections lower than in Ukraine? Now there are 1, 3 million HIV infected people (5.4 times as many as in Ukraine), 2.3% of them are gays. As we can see, prohibition of gay propaganda has no influence on the HIV infections rate. Even vice versa: the more prohibitions there are, the more gays are getting infected, because when you do something illegal you don’t think about safety.
Mauritania is a striking example here. According to the AIDSinfo data, this country has the highest rate of HIV infections among gays – 44, 4 (to compare, it is 8,5 in Ukraine). Under the 1984 Act, gays are not tolerated in Mauritania, they face stoning to death. Finland has one of the lowest HIV rates (0,4%). Here Tom of Finland (Touko Valio Laaksonen) – a Finland artist – was born. He is famous for his homoerotic and often even pornographic art. He said: “When I paint men having sex, I try to show a men’s pride for getting pleasure from sex.” What is more, the State Mail of Finland brought out a series of homoerotic stamps with his pictures – it is unconcealed propaganda for homosexuality at the national level.
Mr. Victor Tantsiura also added: “President swears on the Bible. It means he adheres the biblical principles. The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin.”
Mr. Arkadiy Bushenko – a judge of The Supreme Court of Ukraine, gave the answer to this legal issue.
“First of all, the President has to do what the Constitution says him to do,” he said, “Our state is secular and it means it exists apart from the church. Giving the oath on the Bible is only a matter of traditions. It makes the President’s oath more solemn. But it doesn’t mean that he must act towards the commandments of the Bible. In many cases it will contradict to his presidential commitments. The example of such a contradiction is this accident with LGBT rights defense. Despite that, the President must defend every religion in Ukraine, not only Christian. This is the other contradiction.”
What has the biggest influence on HIV infection? Doctors say it is casual and unprotected sex. As for marriage and its equivalent – civil partnership – they prevent infection. If gays are announced illegal and not allowed to have formal relationship, they will still have gay sex. But in this case the danger is increasing.
By Oleh Shynkarenko