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Quigley, Equality Caucus Call on President Biden to Highlight LGBTQ+ Rights in Ukraine During Meeting with President Zelensky

Aug 25, 2021
Press Release

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), along with 20 members of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to emphasize the importance of LGBTQ+ rights in Ukraine during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s upcoming visit. In the letter, the Members noted the recent introduction of dangerous bills in Ukraine’s parliament that would harm Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community, as well as violence at Pride celebrations. However, the Ukrainian government has also recently introduced legislation that would recognize crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other factors, as hate crimes. The Members are urging President Biden to underscore the importance of LGBTQ+ equality in Ukraine and to encourage President Zelensky to lead the charge to pass the hate crimes bill into law. 

“We write today to urge you to make it clear that LGBTQ+ equality in Ukraine and worldwide is a priority for your administration during your upcoming meeting with President Zelensky,” the Members wrote

“Our Caucus has followed discussions around LGBTQ+ rights in Ukraine with great interest. Ukraine has made significant strides on human rights generally but has not been consistent on equality for LGBTQ+ people,” the Members continued. “In particular, we are alarmed at the introduction of several bills in Ukraine’s parliament that would harm Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community. While these bills — which include criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity and punishment for homosexual or transgender ‘propaganda’ in the style of a harmful law in place in Russia — have failed to pass, we expect that they will continue to be introduced and to be a threat to Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community.”

The Members go on, “Yet, there is ample reason to hope for a bright future for LGBTQ+ people in Ukraine. Recently, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers introduced legislation developed by President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government to broaden Ukrainian law pertaining to hate crimes. The bill would recognize crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other factors, as hate crimes. It has been included in the Ukrainian Parliament’s agenda for this session, providing an opportunity to enshrine protections from hate motivated violence for Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community in law.

“We believe that Ukraine has made important strides in the protection and promotion of human rights, but it is imperative that we continue to work on behalf of all marginalized communities around the world, including the LGBTQ+ community,” the Members concluded. “We urge you to emphasize the need to ensure equality of the LGBTQ+ people in Ukraine and to encourage that the hate crimes bill be given full consideration. 

The full letter can be found HERE.