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Problems of discrimination and violence by law enforcement bodies against LGBT people

03.11.2021
D. Kobzin, S. Scherban

Kharkiv Institute for Social Research
Supported by Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

The report contains the results of a qualitative research of discrimination and violence against LGBT people by law enforcement bodies. It examines the typical contacts of the community with the police and penitentiary institutions, identifies the key causes of discrimination and describes possible ways to overcome these problems. The report will be useful for public figures, journalists, lawyers, representatives of international organizations, law enforcement professionals and anyone interested in human rights in the law enforcement system in Ukraine.


Although this is not often reflected in the public sphere, LGBT people in Ukraine continue to suffer from various forms of discrimination by society. This is happening in the labour sphere, as well as in the medical and social ones. However, the members of the community are most vulnerable when interacting with law enforcement bodies. Unfortunately, when it comes to the usual, unprepared, not carried out in the planned interaction or preparation for an event contact of LGBT people with law enforcement, much of such contact remains quite traumatic (psychologically and physically) for this category of citizens, and therefore most often this experience is hidden and is not made public. Representatives of the LGBT community do not complain to the SBI (previously – to the prosecutor’s office), do not go to medical facilities to record injuries, do not defend their rights in court. However, it is very important to understand the reasons for their actions, why they do not complain about the actions of the police, how ingrained are stereotypes and homophobic ideas in the practice of law enforcement bodies. The answers to these questions require constant monitoring and updating of this topic in society.

Thanks to the support of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and the Norwegian Embassy in Ukraine, this year the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research was able to analyse the problems of discrimination and violence against LGBT people by law enforcement bodies. Individual in-depth interviews with members of the LGBT community who had contacts with law enforcement bodies, as well as interviews with experts (law enforcement officials, prison officials and NGOs working on human rights issues in the police and penitentiary institutions) were selected as the research method. The choice of method was due to the specificity of the research topic, as well as the difficult availability of selected respondents. At the same time, in-depth interviews provided detailed information on the logic and motives of LGBT behaviour in contact with law enforcement officials, to gain a deeper understanding of discrimination and violence in the police and prisons against this category of people.

20 interviews with members of the LGBT community and 15 with experts were conducted within the research. The snowball method was used to search for respondents. Data collection took place in August–September 2021.


This publication has been produced with the financial support of the Norwegian Embassy in Ukraine and with the assistance of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

The content of the publication is the sole responsibility of the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research and the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and can under no circumstances be taken to reflect the position of the Norwegian Embassy in Ukraine.

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