September 24, 2009

Ukraine Seriously Needs Harvey Milk

It's been less than a week since a homophobic scandal surrounded Sir Elton John's visit to Ukraine and his humble attempt to adopt a 14-month-old HIV-positive orphan. And Ukraine has already had another outbreak of homophobia. Now it went much further than Minister Pavlenko's rambling statements about Elton John's Ukrainian adoption. Btw, it still remains a mystery whether Elton John's hubby meets the age requirements to adopt baby Lev or not. I also really wonder whether Minister Pavlenko has finally established whether baby Lev is orphan or not and whether baby Lev has HIV or not. Btw, will Minister Pavlenko make an official apology to Sir Elton John on behalf of the homophobic government? What about baby Lev? Will he just stay in the orphanage after all commotion?

Anyways, if an American gay activist Harvey Milk were alive today and somehow found himself in a downtown of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, he would be unpleasantly surprised. He would see the anti-gay rally organized by Ukraine's NGO Love vs Homosexuality aka Love Contra. A very mixed crowd that ranged from teenage girls to grandmas protested against homosexuality in Ukraine. NGO Love Contra asked the government to reconsider a gay sex as a sex crime as it was in the Soviet Criminal Law. Protestors also carried posters with the following anti-gay statements: A Father Can Be Anybody, But a Father Can't Be a Mother; Mother + Father = Child; We Must Stop Homo-dictatorship! (Apparently, the Ukrainian democracy is over); You Aren't Born Gay, You Become Gay; Homosexuality = AIDS; Protect Your Motherland and Your Kids (I guess from gays).

You'll be surprised by a reaction of Svyatoslav Sheremet, a head of Ukraine's Gay Forum that is a leading gay rights organization in Ukraine. He says that NGO Love Contra made him a huge favor by getting together so many people and informing them about Ukraine's gay movement. I don't like Mr. Sheremet's position that must represent a view of the main gay activist of Ukraine. He still needs to learn a lot from his American role model. Why? One, a majority of Ukrainians is homophobic. Two, Ukrainians are homophobic because the whole "coming out of closet" thing is just very new to them. Common, people still have problems with getting used to a market economy and a democracy. The obvious question is: How are Ukrainians homophobic? Well, they'd rather accept you as Jewish friend than as gay friend. If you doubt my words, you can look up the public attitudes towards Jews and gays in Ukraine here. Anyways, the recent events clearly show social tensions between the gay community and general public. Though the Ukrainian politics is very far from making gay rights the main political issue, the gay problem must be addressed so that the Ukrainian society can get rid of the anachronistic fears of homosexuality and move on to celebrating Gay Pride Week or GLBT's October.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very insightful, thoughtful, intelligent, and well reasoned article that merits far more exposure than it probably will receive. The links are especially helpful to anyone interested. Leo should be applauded for this piece.