LGBT rights in Ukraine

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LGBT rights in Ukraine
Location of  LGBT rights in Ukraine  (green)in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]
Location of  LGBT rights in Ukraine  (green)

in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual activity legal?Legal since 1991[1]
Gender identity/expressionChange of gender is allowed[2][3]
Military serviceGays and lesbians allowed to serve
Discrimination protectionsNo specific protections for sexual orientation or gender identity (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex relationships
AdoptionSingle gays and lesbians who are citizens of Ukraine are allowed to adopt
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LGBT rights in Ukraine
Location of  LGBT rights in Ukraine  (green)in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]
Location of  LGBT rights in Ukraine  (green)

in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual activity legal?Legal since 1991[1]
Gender identity/expressionChange of gender is allowed[2][3]
Military serviceGays and lesbians allowed to serve
Discrimination protectionsNo specific protections for sexual orientation or gender identity (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex relationships
AdoptionSingle gays and lesbians who are citizens of Ukraine are allowed to adopt

Lesbian, gay, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Ukraine may face legal challenges[clarification needed] not experienced by non-LGBT residents.[citation needed] Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Ukraine, but households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

Antipathy toward LGBT Ukrainians[clarification needed] remains strong in Ukrainian society.[4][5] Almost all of them[who?] are afraid to be open about their orientation.[4][6] There are a few LGBT publications[clarification needed] (and internet sites)[quantify] like "One of Us" and few gay bars and night clubs in Kiev and Odessa.[7]


"I knew one 19-year-old guy who accidentally left his laptop lying around his house and his parents saw messages he sent to his boyfriend. For over a year they didn't let him go out of the house to work or study, they just kept him inside for fear of shame. And that's a familiar story in Ukraine."

Stas Mischenko, vice-president of Gay Alliance of Ukraine[8]

Homosexuality is considered a taboo subject in Ukraine, where same-sex sexual activity was legalised in 1991.[8][9] There is little social support for LGBT people to be honest[clarification needed] about their sexual[nb 1] or gender identity and a fairly high degree of verbal and physical harassment exists.[10] In 2013 Ukrainian gay community leaders stated that less than 1 percent of Ukraine’s gays and lesbians where open about their sexual orientation.[4] Coming out for public figures has been rare.[11][nb 2] This may be explained as a remnant of Ukraine's Soviet era in which relations other than heterosexual relations were labeled as abnormal.[4][12] Overall Ukraine is a conservative, mainly Orthodox Christian, country and the Orthodox Church strongly opposes gay rights.[4][13] Prior to the May 25, 2013 Kiev pride parade the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Filaret, stated that people supporting LGBT rights would be cursed and Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church denounced homosexuality as a sin tantamount to manslaughter.[8] Many Ukrainians[quantify] affiliate with one of the Christian sects[clarification needed] that view homosexuality and cross-dressing as signs of immorality.

Love Against Homosexuality event in Kiev in September 2008.

Since 1991, the Ukrainian LGBT community has become more visible in the urban cities[clarification needed] and there are LGBT nightclubs, publications and human rights organizations. There is a small, but vibrant, LGBT scene in places such as Kiev and in 2007.[clarification needed] While they[clarification needed] have been subject to protesters calling for government censorship, LGBT-themed television shows and films are becoming more commonplace.[citation needed] More recently[when?][vague], anti-gay interest groups and politicians have sought to ban or classify any television program or film with LGBT themes as being pornographic and thus in violation of public morality laws unless it is publicly exhibited during a narrow time frame.[14] A similar move was made against an LGBT web page. One of the major anti-gay interest groups in the nation is the Love Against Homosexuality, which has the public support of celebrities and members of parliament who believe that LGBT people are "sexual perverts".[14]

Violent attacks on LGBT activists have taken place;[4][15][16][17] the Ukrainian police hardly ever detained attackers.[4][15]

Government and politics[edit]

On 12 December 1991 Ukraine became the first post-Soviet country recognized by the UN to decriminalize homosexuality.[9] Homosexual relations between consenting adults (who have reached the age of sixteen years) in private were legalized as part of a post-Soviet reform of the criminal code. Adult sex-change operations have been legal since 1996. Beyond that, the political establishment tends to ignore LGBT issues or uses the public prejudices to generate political support.[18]

Constitutional rights[edit]

The National Constitution, approved in 1991, does not explicitly mention sexual orientation or gender identity. It does contain several clauses affirming basic human rights, including equal rights irrespective of such things as "political, religious and other beliefs" or "other characteristics". Such provisions could be used to advance LGBT rights, but the Ukrainian courts have largely avoided[clarification needed] the subject.

Political parties and politicians[edit]

None of the major or minor political parties have formally come out[clarification needed] in favor of LGBT rights. Most of what has been said, by politicians,[clarification needed] in regards to LGBT rights has been overtly prejudicial and hostile.[19]

In 1999, the former president of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, stated that there are more important issues than LGBT rights to discuss in parliament and that homosexuality is caused by a mental illness or the corrupting influence of foreign films.[18]

In 2007, the leader of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights called gay men "perverts" who must be stopped. Other MPs have attempted to restrict the freedom of expression[clarification needed] by labeling LGBT-themed publications as pornographic propaganda.[20]

2012/2013 legislation[edit]

A draft law that would make it illegal to talk about homosexuality in public and in the media and to import, distribution and broadcast of video, photo and audio products that “encourages homosexuality” (with penalties of up to five years in prison and fines for up to 5,000 Ukrainian hryvnia (616 United States dollar[21])) was passed in first reading in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) on 2 October 2012.[15] This law has since then[4][22] yet too pass a second parliamentary reading yet (on 4 October 2012 a second vote was tentatively scheduled for (coming) October 16[9]) and is yet to be signed by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in order to become a law.[15][23][nb 3] This law was deemed “homophobic” by the LGBT community and human rights organisations and condemned by them, Amnesty International, the European Union and the United Nations.[15] The Venice Commission concluded in June 2013 that the bill[clarification needed] was "incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and international human rights standards".[22]

Early February 2013 Ukraine’s foreign minister Leonid Kozhara stated that a law prohibiting discrimination against gays will be adopted soon.[25] The Verkhovna Rada on 14 May 2013 indefinitely postponed a vote on a bill that would have barred employers from rejecting workers based on their sexual orientation.[26]

Same-sex relationships[edit]

The Constitution specifically defines marriage as a voluntary union between a man and a woman. The court[clarification needed] has not ruled on whether or not this also bans legal recognition of civil unions.[27]

Adoption and family planning[edit]

Single persons who are citizens of Ukraine regardless of sexual orientation are allowed to adopt, but same-sex couples are explicitly banned from adoption (Clause 211 of Family Code of Ukraine).[28][29] Additionally, the adopter must be at least 15 years older than the adopted child, or 18 years older if adopting an adult. The law also mentions that persons "whose interests conflict with the interests of the child" may not be adopters, but whether this provision has ever been applied against gay adopters is unknown.

Additional restrictions are placed on foreign adopters. Only couples married in a registered different-sex marriage are allowed to adopt children from Ukraine[29][30]

However, lesbian couples are given more access to parenting than men, as IVF and assisted insemination treatments are legal.

Military service[edit]

Conscription exists for Ukrainian men and homosexuality per se is not grounds for an exemption from military service, although it is possible that a regional enlistment commission could[clarification needed] exclude gay or bisexual men.[citation needed]

Health care[edit]

According to the Constitution, health care is the right of every citizen of Ukraine. One of the major health crises in the nation has been the high number of people infected with AIDS–HIV.[31] While much of the prevention effort has been directed at drug addicts and prostitution, recent efforts have been made to develop special programs for the LGBT community.

Discrimination and harassment protections[edit]

In Ukraine, there are no anti-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation or gender identity and the constitution bans legal recognition of same-sex marriages. The proposed law № 2342 vote (that law would have barred employers from rejecting workers based on their sexual orientation) was indefinitely postponed on a bill 14 May 2013.[26][32] There is a national hate crimes law that could be interpreted as including sexual orientation and gender identity, but that has not been decided by the courts.[33]

LGBT rights movement[edit]

LGBT flag map of Ukraine.svg

In 1998, the first LGBT rights group was created. Our World is a LGBT community center and human rights advocacy organization. In 2008, Ukrainian LGBT rights organizations came together to create a coalition, Union of Gay Organizations of Ukraine.[34] While these groups have been allowed to exist, they have faced public harassment and government bans when they have attempted to express their views publicly.[citation needed]

In 2006, various government agencies sent formal replies to a LGBT rights group petition on behalf of LGBT rights, that acknowledged the human rights requirements for membership in the European Union,[clarification needed] but otherwise expressed opposition to same-sex marriages.[citation needed]

Pride parades and rallies[edit]

In September 2003, the first, albeit small, public pride parade was held in Kiev.[6]

In May 2008 Ukrainian LGBT groups were prevented from marking the International Day Against Homophobia after a last-minute intervention by authorities who told organisers that due to the likelihood of friction the programme of events would have to be cancelled. Roman Catholics, Christianity of Evangelist belief, Seventh-day Adventists, Eparchy of Christianity and Baptist and the Union of Independent Orthodox churches had asked local authorities to forbid any action by representatives of sexual minorities.[35]

A May 2012 (to be held in Kiev) gay pride was canceled by its participants because they feared for their safety.[16] Two gay rights activists were beaten up and tear gassed by a group of youths after pridegoers were evacuated by police escort.[5][8][16]

An estimated 20 community activists representing several organizations protested outside of the Verkhovna Rada building during the October 2012 vote of an "“anti encouraging homosexuality”" bill.[9]

On 23 May 2013 a Ukrainian court satisfied a petition by Kiev city authorities to ban the holding of any events, other than those envisaged by the program for the celebration of Kiev Day (in the central part of the city); in doing so it de-facto banned the gay pride parade in Kiev that was planned for May 25.[36] Which format[clarification needed] was then changed to "a private event outside the central part of Kyiv".[37] On this day on a narrow pathway near Pushkin Park and Shuliavska metro station,[38] about 50 people gathered and marched.[8][39] Among them at least 10 from the Munich (Germany), including Vice Mayor of Munich Hep Monatzeder, and some from Sweden.[38] They marched under the protection of 1500 policemen, 13 of the about 100 anti-gay (march) protesters were arrested and no physical[nb 4] violence occurred.[8][39][40] After one hour the protesters who took part in the parade were evacuated from the area.[8] In an attempt to avoid revenge attacks they then changed their clothes and switched modes of transport multiple times.[8]

Public opinion[edit]

In a 2007 country-wide survey by the Institute of Sociology, 16.7% disagreed strongly and 17.6% disagreed with the following statement: Gay men and lesbians should be free to live their own life as they wish. Only 30.2% agreed strongly and agreed with the statement. That was the lowest rating of agreed strongly and agreed with the statement" of 24 countries investigated.[41]

In a December 2007 survey by Angus Reid Global Monitor,[dubious ] 81.3% of Ukrainians polled said that homosexual relations were "never acceptable", 13% answered "sometimes acceptable" and 5.7% "acceptable".[42] Of all the behaviors listed, homosexuality was viewed as the third worst after shoplifting and drunk driving. Notably, more people view this as never acceptable than viewing adultery (61.5% never, 29.3% sometimes), traffic rule violation (70.2% never, 25.6% sometimes), pollution (73.3% never, 22.4% sometimes), tax evasion (48.5% never, 37.5% sometimes), deception for the sake of profit (48.3% never, 41.6% sometimes), as well as a list of other things including abortion, premarital sex, complaining to authorities about a friend who has stolen something, etc.[clarification needed]

In another Angus Reid Global Monitor survey, this one in June 2007, on a long list of possible social reforms in the country, legalization of gay marriage only received 4.7% of the vote, the lowest by far (the next lowest being light drugs,[clarification needed] at 7.1%).[43]

A December 2010 Gorshenin Institute poll stated that the "Ukrainian attitude to sexual minorities" was "Entirely negative" for 57.5%, "Rather negative" for 14.5%, "Rather positive" for 10% and "Quite positive" for 3%.[5]

Living conditions[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legalYes (since 1991[9])
Equal age of consentYes[44]
Anti-discrimination laws in employment onlyNo (a bill that would have barred employers from rejecting workers based on their sexual orientation was indefinitely postponed on 14 May 2013[26])
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and servicesNo[citation needed]
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)No[citation needed]
Same-sex marriage(s)No[45]
Recognition of same-sex couples as registered partnershipsNo[45]
Step-child adoption by same-sex couplesNo (single persons who are citizens of Ukraine regardless of sexual orientation are allowed to adopt)
Joint adoption by same-sex couplesNo (foreign couples married in a registered different-sex marriage are allowed to adopt children from Ukraine; single persons who are citizens of Ukraine regardless of sexual orientation are allowed to adopt)
Gay men and women allowed to serve openly in the militaryDepends (depends on regional enlistment commission[46])
Right to change legal genderYes (reassignment surgery is only permissible for those over the age of 25 years[47])
Access to IVF for lesbiansYes[citation needed]
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couplesYes (since commercial surrogacy is illegal for all couples regardless of sexual orientation in various countries embassies might refuse to grant the newborns citizenship and travel documents of the country of the (intended) parent[48])

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Many homosexual men do not consider themselves gay despite their sexual relations.[8]
  2. ^ Former Minister of Justice Serhiy Holovaty has never denied being a homosexual.[11]
  3. ^ Bills are usually considered by the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's Parliament) following the procedure of three readings; the President of Ukraine must sign a law before it can be officially promulgated.[24] The Verkhovna Rada can take the decision on final adoption of the bill after the first or second reading if the bill is considered as such that does not require refinement.[24]
  4. ^ A few religious anti-gay protesters, disguised as press, attempted to rip banners and placards of the paraders.[8]


  1. ^ Ottosson, Daniel (May 2008). "State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults". International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). p. Page 45. Retrieved 5 May 2009. 
  2. ^ Gender Recognition Panel, Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom)
  3. ^ Table of gender recognition schemes in countries and territories that have been approved by the Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom) (April 2006)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Kiev court cancels Ukraine’s first-ever gay pride rally, The Washington Post (23 May 2013)
  5. ^ a b c Ukraine takes aim against 'gay propaganda', BBC News (11 October 2012)
  6. ^ a b Trembling in Ukraine, The World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews: Keshet Ga’avah (2008)
  7. ^ Across the Former Soviet Union Film Helps Ukrainians Confront Views on Judaism, Homosexuality, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (6 April 2006)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ukraine's gays fear coming out of the closet , Al Jazeera English (31 May 2013)
  9. ^ a b c d e Ukraine vote on anti-gay bill sparks outrage, Bay Area Reporter (4 October 2012)
  10. ^ "New Ukraine, Old Homophobia". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Fearing scandal for being different, politicians keep themselves, nation in closet, Kyiv Post (14 October 2010)
  12. ^ Feminists Contest Politics and Philosophy (Philosophy and Politics), Peter Lang, 2005, ISBN 978-90-5201-252-0 (page 199)
  13. ^ RRT RESEARCH RESPONSE UKRAINE, Refugee Review Tribunal Australia (10 July 2008)
  14. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  15. ^ a b c d e Gays attacked during human rights march, six detained, Kyiv Post (8 December 2012)
  16. ^ a b c Kiev's first Pride marred by threats and violence, Bay Area Reporter (24 May 2012)
  17. ^ Violence in Ukraine, Bay Area Reporter (13 December 2012)
  18. ^ a b PDF[dead link]
  19. ^ "Gay Ukraine News & Reports". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  20. ^ "Gay Ukraine News & Reports". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  21. ^ Convert United States Dollar to Ukraine Hryvnia, The Money Converter (8 December 2012)
  22. ^ a b Venice Commission says Ukrainian bill banning promotion of homosexuality contradicts international standards, Interfax-Ukraine (18 June 2013)
  23. ^ European Voice: Ukraine seeks to revive EU talks, Kyiv Post (7 February 2013)
  24. ^ a b The interns of the Program of Internship at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and Central Executive Bodies for 2012-2013 learned the procedure of submission and passage of bills in the Verkhovna Rada, Verkhovna Rada (14 December 2012)
    Ukraine: Energy Policy Review 2006, International Energy Agency, 24 October 2006, ISBN 9264109919 (page 130)
  25. ^ Ukraine to ban discrimination against gays, says foreign minister, Gay Star News (8 February 2013)
  26. ^ a b c Ukraine shelves gay rights vote amid protests, Channel NewsAsia (14 May 2013)
  27. ^ "Constitution of Ukraine". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  28. ^ Austrian couple wins landmark adoption case, Bay Area Reporter (21 February 2013)
  29. ^ a b Family Code of Ukraine (in Ukrainian)
  30. ^ Elton 'cannot adopt in Ukraine', BBC News (14 September 2009)
  31. ^ "Ukraine - Ukraine fights rising HIV/AIDS infection rate". UNICEF. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ [2][dead link]
  35. ^ Stars back gay-bashing campaign for "traditional love" in Ukraine, Pink news (18 November 2008)
  36. ^ Court bans gay pride parade in Kyiv on May 25, Interfax-Ukraine (23 May 2013)
  37. ^ Equality March to be held as a private event, not in central Kyiv, say organizers, Interfax-Ukraine (24 May 2013)
  38. ^ a b Despite interruptions, Kyiv holds first ever gay pride, Kyiv Post (25 May 2013)
  39. ^ a b Gay-Pride Activists Briefly March In Kyiv, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (25 May 2013)
  40. ^
  41. ^ Evhen Golovakha, Andriy Gorbachyk, Natalia Panina, "Ukraine and Europe: Outcomes of International Comparative Sociological Survey", Kiev, Institute of Sociology of NAS of Ukraine, 2007, ISBN 978-966-02-4352-1, pp. 133–135 in Section: "9. Social discrimination and migration" (pdf)
  42. ^ Ukrainians Decry Shoplifting, Drunk Driving, Angus Reid Global Monitor (18 December 2007)
  43. ^ (06/29/07) (18 June 2007). "Ukrainians Endorse Status Quo on Social Issues". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  44. ^ The No-nonsense Guide to Sexual Diversity by Vanessa Baird, New Internationalist, 2007, ISBN 1904456642 (page 139)
  45. ^ a b Legal Report: Ukraine, COWI (2010)
  46. ^ [3][dead link]
  47. ^ Integrating Transsexual and Transgendered People (Part 2 of 3), Press for Change (December 1999)
  48. ^ Ukraine Surrogacy Boom Not Risk-Free, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (4 June 2011)

External links[edit]

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