On the Equality March planned for 25 May in Kyiv
The Without Borders Project has issued a statement in which it notes that the Equality March has been declared a human rights event demanding that members of Ukraine’s LGBT community are assured equal rights and opportunities. At the present time, its organizers are running up against threats from radical opponents, as well as problems agreeing a time and place for the march with the Kyiv City State Administration [KCSA].
Freedom of peaceful assembly should be assured to each group. Neither KCSA nor opponents of the LGBT community can insist on the banning of the March merely because they don’t like the views or sexual orientation of its organizers. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly together with the right to freedom of expression, must be enjoyed by members of religious communities; defenders of morality and traditional values; and by LGBT. The Law on the Principles of Countering and Preventing Discrimination in Ukraine bans all forms of discrimination against any groups.
When discrimination of vulnerable groups is an everyday occurrence in Ukrainian society and efforts to counter them and protect individuals are insufficient and ineffective, this event in support of equality and the principle of non-discrimination are extremely important and should be supported.
The holding of the Equality March in a safe and transparent manner is part of the dialogue about human rights for each of us irrespective of features like age, social status; skin colour; religious convictions; gender or sexual orientation.
Safety depends in the first instance on the organizers and transparent actions of the authorities, and chiefly the police. The situation has however arisen where information about the March which should only be known to KCSA (which has received notification of the plan to hold it) and the police is already available in open sources. Numerous opponents of the event are organizing resistance groups and openly declaring their wish to resist it and use force against its participants. There is no information from the authorities on their actions and willingness to ensure the safety of participants and prevent violence. There are instead KCSA statements suggesting a change in the date of the March supposedly because other events are planned for that day. All of this suggests a lack of understanding both among opponents of the LGBT community and the authorities of the universal right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the role of the State in safeguarding this.
A report has been issued to the Prosecutor’s Office regarding the fact that opponents of the event are openly and cynically planning the offence envisaged by Article 340 of the Criminal Code in order to prevent citizens from exercising their constitutional rights.
Without borders stresses that the Equality March must be an open event. They note that openness and public awareness of the date and time of the event are important for ensuring that it is safe and successful. It is much easier for opponents to wave baseball batons and threaten a small number of members of the LGBT community than a large number who come out in support of human rights.
They therefore call for the creation of all conditions so that the organizers can openly publish information about the March and invite participants not only from the LGBT community from NGOs and activists.
The Without Borders Project calls on KCSA and the Interior Ministry to protect public order during the March and to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its participants. It calls on organizations and civil society activists and all concerned people to attend the March and support equality and the principle of non-discrimination.
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