Elton John has called on Ukraine to drop a proposed law that would proscribe public discussion of LGBT rights and also called for an end to homophobic violence.
Elton John has called on Ukraine to drop a proposed law that would proscribe public discussion of LGBT rights. Speaking in Kiev at the weekend, he also called for an end to violence against gay people in the country.
Addressing a concert on the eve of the Euro 2012 Final, he said:
“It should never be a crime to be a different colour, or a different religion or a different sexual orientation. We are all God’s children. We all deserve a chance.
“And I plead with you Ukraine, stop the violence against gay people and say no to law 8711.”
This week Ukraine’s Parliament will debate law 8711, which would outlaw all public discussion of LGBT rights. The UN has condemned the proposed law as amounting to state-promoted discrimination against LGBT people, violating a large number of rights protected under treaties signed by Ukraine.
Elton met Svyatoslav Sheremet, who was beaten about the head and body by thugs wearing surgical masks shortly after the police told organisers they could not guarantee the safety of Kiev’s gay pride march in May. The organisers of the Kiev pride parade welcomed his comments.
Taras Karasiichuk, who was himself a victim of a homophobic attack close to his home last week which left him with a broken jaw, said:
“If the proposed law 8711 is passed it would be illegal for Elton John to stand on a stage and speak up for gay rights. This legislation would deprive LGBT people of the human rights that everybody should be entitled to. It would leave us open to more violence and attacks.”
Here’s some of what reporter Damian Whitworth discovered (£):
Last month the small, low-key gay community of Kiev attempted to realise their modest ambition of holding the Ukrainian capital’s first gay pride event. They tried to keep the final location of the march a secret but somehow it leaked to ultra-conservative thugs intent on violence.
The gay group reluctantly accepted the police recommendation that they cancel the parade, but the bigots still found them.
As the gay rights campaigners talked to journalists they were attacked, first with pepper spray and then with fists and boots. Television footage shows Svyatoslav Sheremet being kicked and then jumped on as he lies on the ground. As his attackers flee he stands up to reveal his smashed, bloodied face.
Just how socially different Ukraine is compared with liberal western European countries becomes clear after about half an hour of talking to Andriy Maymulakhin in a hotel bar in Kiev. Maymulakhin is a Ukrainian gay rights activist and tells of life for gays and lesbians in his country.
His story is depressing and sometimes alarming, but perhaps the most extraordinary insight comes when I innocently ask who are the well-known gays in Ukraine. He smiles wryly and gently explains that I have failed to understand the reality of life in his country. “We do not have any openly gay public figures,” he says. “No one.”…
A man called Sergei met a man online and went to meet him. He was introduced to four friends of his new acquaintance. They taunted him about his sexuality and then beat him, knocking out his front teeth, breaking a rib and dislocating an arm.
Last year another man, Nikolay, found graffiti on the wall close to the entrance to his home: “Kill the gays who live here.” A similar inscription appeared on his front door. Two weeks later two of his neighbours beat him up while shouting obscenities about his sexuality. In these cases and others, according to Nash Mir, the police failed to properly investigate.
Law 8711, if passed, will only make things worse.