Amidst Russia’s invasion, a petition urging the Ukrainian government to consider legalizing same-sex marriage has garnered a staggering 28,000 signatures by the public. The petition which has been sent to President Volodymyr Zelensky has led to a resurgence of conversation about the equal rights of LGBTQ+ people.
The popular petition states that in war-torn Ukraine “every day can be the last,” and that same-sex couples deserve the opportunity to “start a family and have an official document to prove it.”
In Ukraine, if a petition accumulates more than 25,000 signatures, then it is involuntarily sent to the president for consideration – who must respond to the issue raised in the petition within ten days.
The listed author of the petition, Anastasia Andriivna Sovenko, said on the petition website “At this time, every day can be the last”. She also wrote “Let people of the same sex get the opportunity to start a family and have an official document to prove it. They need the same rights as traditional couples.”
However, it is unknown if the president is to be adamant about supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ukraine. Zelensky has said he did not want to say “anything negative” of the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine when he responded to a homophobic heckler in a press conference in 2019.
“We all live in an open society where each one can choose the language they speak, their ethnicity and orientation,” Zelensky said. “Leave those people alone, for God’s sake!”
Zelensky has also received backlash from gay rights groups in Ukraine for not firing one of his advisors, Oleksiy Arestovych, after he made homophobic comments last month in which he labelled the LGBTQ+ community as “deviant”.
Though homosexuality has been legal in Ukraine since 1991, same-sex partnerships are not recognized by the law. Anti-discrimination laws in Ukraine include protection for gender identity and sexual orientation. The UCL European Institute has said that “negative societal attitudes impede the effect of laws in practice”.
A study from the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology discovered that nearly 40% of Ukrainians who were polled had a negative outlook towards the LGBTQ+ community – this had decreased from 60.4% in 2016. Ultimately, Ukrainian society continues to develop a tolerant outlook of the LGBTQ+ community and supportive of their social and political rights contrary to Russia, where homosexuality is disapproved by many Russians, where same-sex couples are not granted legal protection by the Russian state.
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