Zelensky opens door to same-sex civil partnerships in Ukraine, as activists call for legal protections during war

In a written response online, Zelensky explained that it would be impossible to legalize same-sex marriages while the country was at war, as it would require a change in the constitution.

But he said his government had “worked out solutions regarding the legalization of registered civil partnership in Ukraine as part of the work to establish and guarantee human rights and freedoms”.

The call to bring same-sex marriage to the country has been accelerated by the war, due to the number of LGBTQ+ people serving in the military and the greater legal protections enjoyed by married civilians.

“The Family Code of Ukraine defines the family as the primary and main unit of society. A family consists of people who live together, are connected by a common life, have mutual rights and obligations. According to the Constitution of Ukraine, marriage is based on the free consent of a woman and a man (Article 51),” Zelensky wrote on the Ukrainian Presidency website.

“The Constitution of Ukraine cannot be changed during martial law or a state of emergency (Article 157 of the Constitution of Ukraine),” I explained.

LGBTQ+ activists march in Kyiv during the city's Pride march last year.

However, Zelensky said he would work with his ministers to “guarantee the rights and freedoms” of all Ukrainians.

“In the modern world, the level of democratic society is measured, among other things, through state policy aimed at ensuring equal rights for all citizens. Each citizen is an inseparable part of civil society, he is entitled to all the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine,” Zelensky also said. “All people are free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Zelensky also thanked the more than 28,000 people who signed the petition for their “active civic stance.” Under Ukrainian law, the president must review petitions that get more than 25,000 signatures.

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In June, the UN identified LGBTQ+ people as a group specifically affected by war and said the country’s LGBTQ+ refugees “are often at increased risk of exclusion, exploitation, violence and abuse. , and encounter distinct protection risks”.

Ukraine legalized homosexuality after the fall of the Soviet Union, but anti-LGBTQ attitudes and laws remain in place in the country. Discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation is prohibited, but no legal recognition of same-sex relationships exists, and same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt children and are not protected by crimes laws hateful, according to the watchdog ILGA-Europe.

The organization ranks Ukraine 39th out of 49 European countries for LGBTQ+ rights.

A Pride Parade is usually held in Kyiv every year, but in June organizers joined forces with the equivalent event in neighboring Poland, celebrating in Warsaw amidst war at home.