Kyiv, 17 May 2020 - The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 embodies a powerful commitment to achieving a life of dignity for all, leaving no one behind, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. For the UN in Ukraine, promoting equality, and combating all forms of discrimination is integral to our efforts to advance this global agenda and we therefore follow closely the situation of the LGBTI community within Ukraine.

We commend the progress achieved in the promotion and protection of human rights of LGBTI people in recent years. It is encouraging to see that equality marches are now better secured by law enforcement compared with previous years. The progressive improvement of response by authorities to discrimination against LGBTI people contributes to this community being able to enjoy the full spectrum of their rights. As we welcome progress, today we encourage the Ukrainian authorities to address areas where further improvement is needed.

Today, in the 21st century, homophobia, transphobia and biphobia still exist, poisoning our societies with intolerance. Hate crimes against LGBTI people are unacceptable. Addressing hate speech is an essential element in prevention of hate-based violence. In this context, the UN globally and in Ukraine have identified countering hate speech as a priority. As the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently pointed out, the outbreak of COVID-19 has fueled a wave of hate speech targeting vulnerable communities around the globe. So, it is now, more than ever, that we need to respond.

In Ukraine the UN remains concerned about incidents of violence and hate speech targeting the LGBTI community, attempts by state and local authorities to introduce discriminatory legislation and refusals of law enforcement services to consider hate motives in crimes targeting LGBTI people. State and local officials also have often failed to publicly react to blatant incidents of discrimination and hate crimes.

Authorities must take the lead in condemning violence and discriminatory rhetoric towards the LGBTI community and ensuring effective investigations of hate crimes. Furthermore, in the context of the global pandemic, I echo the call of Víctor Madrigal-Borloz, the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity – for the authorities to ensure that COVID-19 response measures are inclusive of all people, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Discrimination and hate speech have no place in a democratic society. Each and everyone of us can stand up against discrimination and intolerant attitudes whenever and wherever they occur. Let us remember that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and while addressing global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic we should ensure to leave no one behind!