President Volodymyr Zelensky, responding on Tuesday to a citizens’ petition calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ukraine, raised the perspective of “compromisers” but said the Constitution’s definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman may do not change during the war.
Mr. Zelenskiy then responded the report gathered support from more than 25,000 Ukrainians. Ukraine does not recognize marriage rights for same-sex couples, nor does it have a law allowing them to enter into civil unions. Calls to grant these couples equal rights have grown in part because of the sacrifices of LGBTQ soldiers helping the country fight Russia’s brutal invasion.
According to the regulations of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the military must inform the parents and spouse or other close relatives of a soldier who was killed. But these rules do not apply to same-sex couples who cannot legally marry.
In Ukraine, same-sex couples do not have an automatic right to visit a sick partner, share property, care for a deceased partner’s children, claim the body of a partner killed in war, or collect state death benefits.
The petition urging Mr Zelensky to support marriage rights for same-sex couples was started by Anastasia Sovenko, 24, an English teacher from Zaporizhzhia, southern Ukraine, who identifies as bisexual.
Our coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war
She had said that after reading an article about straight soldiers rushing to marry their partners before heading off to war, she felt sad, angry and disappointed that LGBTQ soldiers didn’t have that option.
Mr. Zelensky, in his response, wrote that democratic societies are measured in part by how they defend equal rights for all citizens and that “every citizen is an indivisible part of civil society, for whom all rights and freedoms specified in the Constitution Extension of Ukraine”.
“All men are free and equal in dignity and rights,” he wrote.
Mr Zelensky noted, however, that Ukraine’s constitution states that “marriage is based on the free consent of a woman and a man” and said the document cannot be changed during a state of martial law, which stated in Februaryafter the Russian invasion.
At the same time, Mr. Zelensky wrote, the government had “worked out options for a solution regarding the legalization of registered partnerships in Ukraine, under the auspices of work on the confirmation and protection of human rights and freedoms.”
He added that he had asked Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal to review the issue raised by the report and report his findings.
“The response is more positive than it could have been” Inna Sovsunwrote the opposition lawmaker in the liberal Holos party, which favors LGBTQ rights Facebook. “But at the same time – not clear enough.”
Because constitutional amendments are now impossible, he wrote, partnerships would be an “acceptable temporary alternative.”
“However, where are the options the President is talking about?” Ms. Sobsun wrote. “Why are they not presented for discussion and tabled in Parliament?”
Ms Sovenko, author of the report, said she was glad Mr Zelenskiy had referred to cohabitation for same-sex couples.
“This is the beginning,” he wrote in an email. He said he was “full of hope” that, after the war, the government would give same-sex couples the chance to marry.
“I’m proud that the response wasn’t negative at all,” she said, “and I’m very happy that this happened.”
The push for same-sex marriage faces significant resistance in a country where Eastern Orthodox religion and traditional sexual mores are deeply embedded in the social fabric. Opponents include some conservative members of Mr Zelensky’s own party, who have called for a “homosexual propaganda” law.
But gay rights advocates in Ukraine hope Mr Zelensky will eventually support same-sex marriage rights, helping the country shed its liberal credentials as it seeks to join the European Union and draw closer to the West.
Maham Javaid and Dan Bilevsky contributed to the report. David Kurkovskiy contributed to the translation.