Progress for LGBT rights in Ukraine has stagnated, Olena Shevchenko, a prominent Ukrainian LGBT activist, told Hromadske. Although the Maidan revolution mobilized Ukrainians, the LGBT community now understands that the protest movement was not about human rights and since then the community has not strengthened. "This is the biggest disappointment for the LBGT community", said Shevchenko.
A flash mob held in Kyiv to mark International Day against Homophobia was attended by just couple of dozens of people. According to Shevchenko, the low attendance at the flash mob can be attributed to the fact that they feared prompting the event because the potential of homophobic backlash. In contrast at an IDAHOT rally in St Petersburg, Russia 350 people attended which organizers say makes it the biggest rally in Russia's history.
The Ukrainian authorities are also adding to the lack of progress in LGBT rights, said Shevchenko, the homophobic attitudes within society extend to the highest levels. The authorities have told the LGBT community they are unable to introduce laws against hate crimes and discrimination because of the country’s “critical situation of conflict with Russia”. Shevchenko told Hromadske that in Russia activists are comparatively more galvanized because of the government’s anti-gay propaganda and discrimination laws.
Another factor adding to the stagnation of the LGBT community in Ukraine, added Shevchenko, is the lack of LGBT role models. For most people being gay is a distant concept and people are too afraid to come out publicly.
Hromadske International's Maxim Eristavi and Sabra Ayres spoke with Olena Shevchenko on May 17, 2015.