Vladimir Zhovtyak: It’s the minorities who transform the world

In Kyiv, the XI National LGBTI Conference of Ukraine started. During three days, twenty sessions of LGBTI conferences will discuss the priority topics of the LGBTI health community, respect for human rights, the development of Marches of Equality, Pre-exposure Prevention (PrEP), HIV prevention among transgender people and much more. The forum is attended by 150 activists of the civil society movement for the human rights and freedoms of lesbians, gays, transgender and intersex people who represent 40 organizations. The conference is held under the motto “Country of the Free People: Equal Opportunities for All”.

Vladimir Zhovtyak, President of the ECUO, noted that the ECUO always supports the LGBTI conference and reminded that a joint project with the Robert Carr Foundation and three Eurasian communities is being implemented to reduce barriers to access to treatment for HIV-positive people, including LGBTI people.

The LGBTI community is a minority, but it is the minority that changes the world for the better. “Ukrainian LGBTI is an example for the region and the world and should set ambitious goals,” he said.

The opening session of the conference was focused on issues of respect for the rights and freedoms of LGBTI people in Ukraine. Participants agreed that the community now can take advantage of the “corridor of opportunities”, when the protection of LGBT rights becomes a component of state policy. The opening was held in the form of a panel discussion.

Roman Gaylevich, UNAIDS Director in Ukraine, said that the degree of influence of LGBTI people is evidenced by the increase in the number of participants of the Equality March: while there were about 70 people at the first Pride in 2013, the latest one in 2018 gathered more than 2,000 people.

Stopping the mass emigration of community members from the country and changing policies — such tasks were defined by Pavel Skala, Director for Policy and Partnership of the Alliance for Public Health.

Community members must develop a community in Ukraine, not abroad. Next year will be crucial: we are waiting for two election campaigns, but this is a great opportunity to get a platform and change the policy, said the representative of the Alliance.

Much attention at the conference will be paid to community participation in the health reform, the emergence of specialized medical centers, and the prevention of HIV and hepatitis among community members. Thus, in the Ukrainian MSM community (men who have sex with men), HIV prevalence is growing: from 5.9% in 2015 to 8.5% in 2017.

The community members specially requested to discuss issues related to the prevention of non-communicable diseases. It is about neuropsychiatric disorders, the fight against cardiovascular diseases, alcoholism.

Svyatoslav Sheremet, Chairman of the Gay Forum of Ukraine, noted that the conference was inclusive for the first time in relation to the intersex subgroup. He also announced that transgender people will soon be recognized as a key population.

Igor Kuzin, a representative of the Center for Public Health, noted that the state lacks a system for monitoring human rights violations. And, as a rule, recording occurs when the violation has already occurred.

The 1-st National Conference of the LGBT movement and the MSM-service of Ukraine was held in Kyiv on April 16-18, 2008. About 70 participants attended the event.

Author: Vladimir Tsymbaliuk