November 5, 2015
On November 5, 2015 the Parliament of Ukraine failed to vote for the consideration of submitting amendments to the draft of the Labour Code of Ukraine in the first reading, namely: "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..."
During the discussion some MPs were heard with clear homophobic remarks. In particular, Deputy P. Unguryan demonstrated his vision of the concept of discrimination against the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people), assuring everybody that it does not exist and that the proposed amendment will create just a "special status" for LGBT people in Ukraine. Therefore the proposal of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice to consider the amendment on submitting the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity got the support of 117 MPs only and so was voted down.
Let us recall that adoption of regulations to prohibit discrimination in labour relations is a condition of granting Ukraine visa-free regime. This regulation exactly is a condition of completion of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalization between Ukraine and European Union (para. 2.4.3 "Citizens' rights including protection of minorities") and also explicitly provided in the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement (Annex XL, chapter "Anti-discrimination and gender equality"). And, except of the purpose of implementation of the foreign liabilities of Ukraine, this amendment is needed by millions of citizens of Ukraine who endure discrimination in the workplace. So the deputies failing this amendment demonstrated once again their true attitude to the urgent needs of Ukrainians and lack of their own legal culture.
Coalition for Combating Discrimination in Ukraine expresses its protest against the reluctance of MPs to include prohibition of discrimination on the grounds listed above in the Labour Code of Ukraine. Freedom from discrimination must be guaranteed to all the people regardless of their belonging to any minority. The rights of vulnerable groups including the LGBT community are continually violated in Ukraine, but the state has never shown a willingness to solve these problems. Thus, when anti-discrimination law was adopted in 2012, sexual orientation and gender identity were not included in the list of grounds on which discrimination in Ukraine should be prohibited in all areas of public life.
We demand the MPs to find legal opportunities and, primarily, political will and awareness to prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the new Labour Code. This step would demonstrate a willingness of Ukraine to take the path of human rights and not the medieval discriminatory attitudes, and the need of tolerance towards any minority for Ukrainian society.