Ukraine awaits Zelensky decision on same-sex marriage

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky must soon decide whether to act on a 28,000-signature petition seeking recognition of same-sex marriages.

The petition was submitted to Zelensky by July 12. Under Ukrainian law, he  is required to respond within 10 days to any petition signed by 25,000 people or more.

LGBTQ rights are a divisive issue in Ukraine, which in 2012 and again in 2020 considered but did not enact a Russian-style ban on “gay propaganda”.  Pride marches in Ukraine have sometimes been held without incident but at other times have been attacked violently by anti-gay protesters.

LGBTQ Ukrainians have won praise for their service in the nation’s defense against this year’s Russian invasion. See, for example, “LGBTQ+ in Ukraine: Tales of wartime horror and helping hands”  (May 9), “Fighting homophobia on Ukraine’s front lines” (April 22), “Glimpses of Ukraine’s LGBTQ warriors: 8 soldiers, 3 supporters resisting Russia” (March 25), and “Ukraine’s LGBTQ community joins fight against Russian invaders” (March 4).

The BBC reported on the same-sex marriage petition:

Ukraine Will Consider Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage After Petition Garners 28,000 Signatures

A petition urging the Ukrainian government to legalize same-sex marriage amid Russia’s invasion has amassed tens of thousands of signatures and has been sent to President Volodymyr Zelensky for consideration.

More than 28,000 people signed the petition, which argues that in war-torn Ukraine “every day can be the last,” and same-sex couples deserve the opportunity to “start a family and have an official document to prove it.”

Any petition in Ukraine that garners more than 25,000 signatures is automatically eligible for consideration by the president, who is required to respond within ten days.

“At this time, every day can be the last,” wrote Anastasia Andriivna Sovenko, the listed author of the petition. “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.”

It’s unclear if Zelenksy would support legalizing same-sex marriage in Ukraine. Zelensky said he didn’t want to say “anything negative” about Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community in response to a homophobic heckler during a 2019 press conference. “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!” He has also come under fire from gay rights groups in Ukraine for not dismissing Oleksiy Arestovych, one of his closest advisors who last month said members of the LGBTQ+ community are “deviant.”

Homosexuality has been legal in Ukraine since 1991, but same-sex partnerships are not lawfully recognized. While Ukraine’s anti-discrimination laws include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, “negative societal attitudes impede the effect of laws in practice,” according to the UCL European Institute. In May, a study from the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology found that 38.2% of Ukrainians polled had a negative view of the LGBTQ+ community, down from 60.4% in 2016.