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Equality Caucus calls on Biden to highlight LGBTQ rights on Ukraine visit

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Last week, 20 members of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to emphasize the importance of LGBTQ rights in Ukraine during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s upcoming visit.

In the letter, members noted the recent introduction of dangerous bills in Ukraine’s parliament that would harm Ukraine’s LGBTQ community, as well as violence at Pride celebrations. However, the Ukrainian government has also recently introduced legislation that would recognize crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other factors, as hate crimes. The Members are urging President Biden to underscore the importance of LGBTQ equality in Ukraine and to encourage Zelensky to lead the charge to pass the hate crimes bill into law. 

“We write today to urge you to make it clear that LGBTQ+ equality in Ukraine and worldwide is a priority for your administration during your upcoming meeting with President Zelensky,” the letter states.

The caucus said they are worried about the introduction of bills that would criminalize consensual same-sex activity and punish LGBTQ “propaganda,” similar to laws in neighboring Russia. The bills have failed to pass, but they will likely be reintroduced.

“We believe that Ukraine has made important strides in the protection and promotion of human rights, but it is imperative that we continue to work on behalf of all marginalized communities around the world, including the LGBTQ+ community,” the letter concluded. “We urge you to emphasize the need to ensure equality of the LGBTQ+ people in Ukraine and to encourage that the hate crimes bill be given full consideration. 

U.S. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Schaumburg), Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), and Marie Newman (D-La Grange) are vice-chairs of the caucus. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline), Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove), Danny Davis (D-Chicago), Bill Foster (D-Naperville), “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago), Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston), Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield), and Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville) are all members of the caucus.

The full letter can be found here.

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