Discussion of recommendations on law enforcement responses to attacks on LGBTQI activists during public events and SOGI-related hate crimes

On 15 May 2019, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union hosted a discussion of recommendations for law enforcement responses to attacks against LGBTQI activists during public events and SOGI-related hate crimes developed by UHHRU experts.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs was represented at the meeting by Natalia Borodych,  head of the Ministry’s Human Rights Monitoring Department (hereinafter – HRMD), and Igor Matviychuk, chief specialist at HRMD’s Organizational and Analytical Division. UHHRU was represented by Maksym Petrov, coordinator of UHHRU’s advocacy programs.

Borodych noted that civil society pays much attention to the issues related to the investigation of hate crimes while these efforts should rather be directed at the prevention of such crimes. According to the Ministry’s representative, no such civil society initiatives exist.

In her opinion, one of the problems that impair the effectiveness of investigations is the lack of a clear definition in the law on when to classify an offense as a hate crime. Recommendations can only serve as general guidelines for investigators, which is why they should be made into law.

In addition, the overall situation with hate crimes in Ukraine is made more difficult due to the low number of crime reports being submitted, which makes it necessary to conduct awareness-raising activities among LGBTQI organizations as well as the public as a whole.

Borodych had asked NGOs numerous times to conduct hate crimes related trainings for investigators, yet none agreed.

When discussing police presence during public events, the issue of poor communication between organizers and the authorities was identified. To remedy that, the Ministry’s representative recommended immediate sharing of information about an event with the HRMD.

The meeting also involved a discussion of recommendations on law enforcement responses to attacks on LGBTQI activists during public events and to SOGI-related hate crimes developed by UHHRU experts.

The participants noted the following:

  1. Exclusion of a criminal offense provided for in Article 161 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code from the list of private prosecution offenses would violate current legislation.
  2. A legal act on police actions at peaceful gatherings has already been developed and implemented.
  3. Initiating amendments to the Order of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine no. 100 of 23 October 2012 and to departmental orders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs concerning the Order’s implementation regulating the National Police statistics on crimes related to LGBTQI rights and freedoms is a difficult task due the peculiarities of communication with certain government agencies.
  4. Developing a strategy of communication between the authorities and the LGBTQI community, including for improving response times when it comes to crimes against this group, is possible, provided that all involved parties take active part in this process and discuss the appropriate document in detail.
  5. It is not possible to ensure proper conditions (premises, staff, coordination between the police and medical services, etc.) for providing adequate psychological, medical and legal support to victims of hate crimes (including those targeting the LGBTQI) due to the existing procedures for providing such assistance, specifics of the work of police departments as well as lack of financial, technical and human resources.
  6. It is not necessary to order periodic sociological surveys for monitoring the public’s security needs, including those of the LGBTQI, because this will be taken care of by the new Community Police Officer initiative.
  7. Public reporting on the outcome of responses to high-profile violations of LGBTQI rights and freedoms (press conferences, analytical publications, news reports, etc.), on the results of investigations into hate crimes perpetrated against the LGBTQI, specifically those in which pre-trial investigation is still ongoing (when it comes to information which may be disclosed with the prosecutor’s permission) is not possible.
  8. The police are open to employing LGBTQI individuals or organizations, but no such applications have been received.
  9. The HRMD has no information (no reports) concerning homophobic conduct on the part of police officers and is thus unable to say anything on this subject.

The discussion was conducted by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union within the framework of the project “Countering radicalism and populism, protecting the rights of the LGBTQI community, organizations and initiative groups that protect LGBTQI rights and combat discrimination, through educational and advocacy activities”, supported by the Democracy Commission of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.


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