Statement by Chargé d’Affaires Bruce Donahue

A government has no more important task than to protect and defend the fundamental freedoms and human rights of its people.  That’s why we were disappointed when this weekend, in Odesa, LGBT activists were denied the opportunity to freely assemble, faced harassment, and had smoke bombs thrown at them for advocating for expanded civil rights and equal protections.  As a vibrant, multicultural, cosmopolitan crossroads, Odesa has extraordinary potential – but it must ensure that the rights of vulnerable groups are not overlooked or ignored, and that all people have the right to live free from violence and discrimination.  As President Obama has said, LGBT rights are human rights.  The United States strongly supports those in Ukraine working to ensure that all people – including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons – enjoy equal rights and equal protections under the law.