Ukraine has to debate ‘Istanbul’ again


Eastern Europe


Activists hold placards and chant slogans as they take part in a march for the International Women's Day in Ukrainian capital of Kiev. Photo AFP, Sergei Supinksky

The Istanbul Convention has reignited opposition across Ukraine.

A petition to denounce the Istanbul Convention’s ratification has received the required 25,000 signatures needed to be reviewed by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, as reported by Christians for Ukraine (C4U).

Supporters of the Istanbul Convention (Treaty 210) see it as a step forward in protecting women’s rights. However, its opposers view the legislation as a disguise for enforcing controversial, gender-equality policies.

According to the C4U article, the measure does not conform to “Ukrainian national interests” and would “deepen social tensions in the state.”

“…The ratification of the Istanbul Convention (June 18, 2022) was decided in an extremely undemocratic way: an issue completely unrelated to the war was put to a vote under martial law when all protests and demonstrations are prohibited. There was no real need for its ratification for the Ukrainian people because the legislation fully covers all aspects of the fight against domestic violence,” said its authors, Maryana Chorna and Kateryna Medovnyk.

The article also said that the bill’s language can be viewed as destructive, particularly Article 12 and its interpretations of “gender identity” and “gender equality.” Article 12 states that signed parties must “take necessary measures” to ensure “changes” in the societal aspects of both women and men and “eradicate prejudices, customs and traditions” that are based on “inferiority” or “stereotypical roles.”

In addition to Article 12, Tymoshenko Yulia Volodymyrivna, the petition’s author, wrote that Article 14 would lead to the “mandatory introduction of educational material on non-stereotypical gender roles” at nearly every level within education and society, including mass media. It would also allow children to change their gender without “parental consent,” which would violate several codes within the nation’s existing bill, “Family Code of Ukraine,” according to the petition’s website, President of Ukraine Volodymyrivna also said that previously passed legislation within Ukraine’s parliament, (Verkhovna Rada) “fully ensures the protection of victims of domestic violence.”

Although the petition is not a guarantee that Zelensky will denounce the ratification, Volodymyrivna, and Christians for Ukraine are hopeful that he will consider it.

Ukraine signed the Istanbul Convention in 2011 but ratified it eleven years later in June 2022 due to widespread opposition from churches and conservative leaders, as reported by Kyiv Independent.

Introduced by the Council of Europe (COE) in 2011, the Istanbul Convention was signed by EU member states as well as some non-member states in Istanbul, Turkey, as a measure to prevent violence against women. However, Turkey left the treaty in 2021, and at least eight signatories have not ratified it, according to the Council of Europe's latest data.



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