UHHRU continue to fight hate crimes in Ukraine. But as human rights defenders did claimed during latest press conference, which was managed by UHHRU and took place in Glavkom press centre on October 26, neither the police nor prosecutor’s office nor people’s deputies want to stop attacks against LGBT activists.
On Sunday, October 22, at 11 pm, two unknown persons attacked Ihor Zakharchenko and his friend at the entrance of their house. As a result, Ihor Zakharchenko received light bodily injuries. His partner is in a difficult psychological condition.
A day before, on October 18, at the entrance of the house where the victim and his partner lived, somebody drew inscriptions on the walls with threats to their lives. From that day, they did not stay at home. Obviously, unknown people waited near the house of Ihor and his partner for several days to attack them.
Ihor said that the police did not take any prompt action. According to him, officers of the National Police even long refused to register the case about the attack. “So far, no investigation has been conducted in our case. This is critically important because in such cases all investigations must be done shortly after. So far, the police have not even investigated the crime scene. In addition, our case, instead of being transferred to an investigator, was for some reason sent to a district police officer. Even though, we were attacked with the threat of our lives,” he said.
This was the third attack against Ihor Zakharchenko. Two previous times – a beating during KyivPride in 2016 and a beating in Odesa – have not yet been investigated. “Every time I wrote a statement to the police, and it had a zero result. I know three more people from Odesa, who have been attacked in the last three months, so we can say that the situation in our city is deteriorating,” said Ihor Zakharchenko.
Ihor Zakharchenko said that LGBT people mostly do not go to the police because they are confident that there will be no investigation. “We are invisible in this state,” said Ihor Zakharchenko. Oleksandr Zinchenkov, an expert at the LGBT Human Rights Nash Svit Center, has been monitoring violations of LGBT rights in Ukraine for over the last ten years. He presented a thematic report “Face of Hate. Crimes and incidents on the grounds of homophobia and transphobia in Ukraine in 2014-2016. ” Here are three typical stories from the report:
“Case 638 (Mariupol, 2015). Several policemen, pretended to be gays who are looking for a date, offered a boy to meet, using social networks. During the meeting, they were illegally detained, taken to a district police department, where they were demanded to pay money (8000 hryvnias), or be reported to their parents and neighbors about it. The victim was forced to pay this amount.”
“Case 637 (Kyiv, 2015). A manager at the Silpo supermarket has fired several employees, accusing them that they are gays in an offensive way. The victims did not report to the police”.
“Case 647 (Kyiv, 2015). Three guys (19 – 25 years old) beat a gay. The victim appealed to the police, but they denied to initiate proceedings. ”
The LGBT Human Rights Nash Svit Center has monitored the situation with hate crimes in Ukraine for almost 15 years. From January till July 2017, the Nash Mir Center documented 117 cases of incidents and crimes on the grounds of homophobia and transphobia, discrimination and other violations of LGBT rights. The largest number of such cases was in Kyiv – 31, Kharkiv – 19, Dnipro – 13, Zaporizhzhia – 9 and Odesa – 8. Almost all cases consist of threats, humiliation and physical violence of varying degrees of severity. In addition, during the same period, 17 cases of violations of LGBT rights by law enforcement agencies were recorded.
“75% of hate crimes occur in relation to LGBT people. In recent years, such the number of such crimes increased, and they became ruder. Now we are talking about grave bodily injuries and murders. Most victims are gays and transgender people because they are more visible,” said Oleksandr Zinchenkov.
According to the expert, the main reason for the increase of violence is the imperfection of Ukrainian legislation, which still does not reflect the signs of sexual orientation and gender identity, hate crimes against which should be considered as aggravating circumstances. “Investigators are opposed to the fact that gender is indicated in cases. I do not know of any case where criminal cases would be passed to the court precisely on this motive. And so, the Ukrainian state is self-refuting to resolve these problems,” said Oleksandr Zinchenkov.
Zoryan Kis, Advocacy Advisor at Freedom House Ukraine, stressed that most victims of gender-based violence cannot talk about it openly because there is a systematic intimidation of the LGBT community by radical and extremist forces. “Ihor and such people like he are not allowed to attract attention of media, because the police is supposed to carry out their work. Unfortunately, Ukrainian investigators have neither the practice nor the ability to investigate such crimes,” said Zoryan Kis.
By the way, Zoryan Kis and his partner are known for their walk at Khreshchatyk a few years ago, holding hands. The experiment was filmed with a hidden camera. It ended up with an attack on them by the right-wing radical homophobic group. “We passed the evidence to the police, where all the faces of the attackers were visible on the video. Unfortunately, after two and a half years, no progress has been made in the investigation. Our lawyers have not yet shown the case file,” said Zoryan Kis.
Oleksandr Zinchenkov told a shocking story about the meeting of LGBT activists with police officers of Poltava Region in 2009. “One major asked us:” How can you promote “homosexuality” if our basic law is the Bible? “, the expert recalled. So, our police and its successor, the National Police, are apparently still guided in their work not by the Constitution of Ukraine and even by the Criminal Procedure Code, but by the peace of world literature.
Vladyslav Petrov, Project Coordinator of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, recalled that there is an official in the National Police structure, who is obligated to conduct statistics on hate crimes. “This is very important, because before the National Police said that such crimes do not exist because there is no their statistics”, said Vladyslav Petrov. He also said that lawyer Dmytro Mazurok, who cooperates with UHHRU, will represent the interests of Ihor Zakharchenko. In addition, the Helsinki Union is about to begin talks with the National Police in Odesa about how it conducts some investigative measures and how it will qualify certain crimes.
According to Vladyslav Petrov, UHHRU lawyers conduct several cases involving abductions and extortions, blackmail, loan clearance, loss of business and other things about LGBT representatives who are afraid to disclose their names. Vladyslav Petrov called on LGBT people who suffer from hate crimes to contact the Helsinki Union for free legal assistance. There is the network of 26 public receptions of UHHRU in different regions of Ukraine today, and their addresses and telephones can be found at this link.
Prepared by Oleh Shynkarenko (UHHRU), especially for the Livyy Bereh
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