Ukraine adopts legislation protecting sexual- and gender minorities in employment | Den norske Helsingforskomité

Ukraine adopts legislation protecting sexual- and gender minorities in employment

Ukraine adopts legislation protecting sexual- and gender minorities in employment

On 12 November the Ukrainian Parliament adopted Amendment Nº 3442 to the Labor Code, where protection against discrimination in the labor sector explicitly mentions sexual and gender minorities (LGBTI) among other vulnerable groups*. The amendment is the first Ukrainian Law where LGBTI persons are granted legal protection, and it was the final law that needed to be adopted before Ukraine could achieve a visa liberalization agreement with the European Union.

- Amendment Nº 3442 is an important step in the right direction, and it addresses the widespread discrimination of LGBTI in the labor sector, says Mina Skouen, Advisor for LGBTI issues in The Norwegian Helsinki Committee. – It is also recognition by Ukrainian authorities that discrimination of LGBTI persons does exist in Ukraine, a fact that has been contested several times during the parliamentary discussions.

The decision came about after tireless efforts from LGBTI activists and their allies, and they deserve heartfelt congratulations today. It shows that the movement has the ability not only to support the LGBTI community in general, but that they regardless of the hostile political climate around them are able to have an impact on the current political reform processes.

- Ukraine is considered as one of the worst countries for LGBTI in Europe, and it is clear that many challenges are waiting, says Skouen. – Protection within employment is not nearly enough. Two crucial points is to ensure that LGBTI are explicitly mentioned within general anti-discrimination legislation and that homophobic and transphobic motivated violence will be considered as hate crimes and the perpetrators adequately prosecuted. Violations committed against gender minorities’ as part of the gender affirmative procedures should also be urgently addressed. Among these are forced sterilization to change legal gender, and compulsory admittance to psychiatric wards to get access to adequate treatment.

Throughout the adoption process homophobic and transphobic attitudes within the Parliament have repeatedly surfaced, and the amendment passed only after the Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Groisman announced that lawmakers stand for family values and will never support gay marriage.

It is important that both the Ukrainian Government and international representatives make it clear that protection of the rights of LGBTI persons is a question of Ukraine’s international human rights obligations as well as the requirements for closer relations with the EU. 

- All hesitations aside, this is an important victory for the LGBTI community in Ukraine, and should be considered as a starting point for inclusion of LGBTI in all forthcoming reform processes, concludes Skouen.  

*Any discrimination is prohibited in the workplace, including violation of the principle of equal rights and opportunities, direct or indirect restriction of workers' rights based on race, color, political, religious and other beliefs, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic, social and foreign origin, age, health, disability, suspected or actual presence of HIV-AIDS, family and economic status, family responsibilities, location, membership in trade union or other association of citizens, participation in strike, appeal or intention to apply to a court or other authorities to protect their rights or supporting other workers in defense of their families.