Chilling news this week from both Russia and Ukraine shows that even in the midst of war, the LGBTQ community is at risk of being attacked for existing.
According to an underground trans-rights group operating out of Russia, a new statute was proposed to the nation’s lower house, the State Duma, meant to increase penalties for the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations.” The country has banned “gay propaganda.”
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A schedule of fines was included in the bill’s language for disseminating information pertaining to the LGBTQ community.
The scale for offenses ranged from $750 USD to just under $100,000 USD with the possibility of deportation in some cases. Those who could be charged with breaking the law ranged from individuals using the internet to companies promoting events such as Pride, and extending all the way to foreign citizens visiting Russia.
While draconian acts were expected from Russian government entities, an event in Ukraine caused significantly greater consternation among local activists. This week, Kyiv Pride released a video of Oleksiy Arestovych, a close advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, from June 19 where he opined that LGBTQ people have a disability.
The controversial appointee then went further stating that while he believed in treating gays with compassion, he is against “propaganda.”
The post from Ukraine’s leading LGBTQ organization garnered over 100,000 video views and more than 7,000 likes in less than 24 hours and contained a call to action demanding that President Zelenskyy fire Arestovych.
Tremendous advances in human rights have been made over the last decade in Ukraine but this folly just days before the country’s main Pride event by someone so near the nexus of power will be closely examined over the next days and weeks for any sign of fallout or consequences.