Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky shuts down homophobic heckler during press conference

The President of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, expertly shut down a homophobic heckler in a rare display of LGBT+ tolerance from an Eastern European leader.

Zelensky made the comments in a record-breaking 14-hour press conference on October 10 in which he spoke to 300 journalists on topics including his controversial phone call with Trump.

He was interrupted by a homophobic heckler wearing a crucifix round his neck, who screamed: “Why haven’t you given answers to bishops and all of us that you’ll stop the [George] Soros program Committee of 300 spreading perversity of homosexuality?

“Will you prevent the legalisation of prostitution and abortions? Or will you proceed with the course of [Petro] Poroschenko, who is Soros’ toadie and Committee of 300’s advocate?”

‘The Committee of 300’ refers to a common conspiracy theory which claims there is a secret group behind global commerce, banking, politics and media, among other things.

Zelensky patiently responded to the heckler’s rant. “I don’t know Mr Soros, I’m not his toadie so I can’t continue with his tasks because I have nothing to do with them,” he said.

“I’m not engaged in the legalisation of prostitution which doesn’t exist in the country. Legalisation of anything in the country can only be implemented through Ukrainian law if changes to the legislation are approved. This means by the hands of the Ukrainian parliament and by approval of laws.”

But when it came to the attack on Ukraine’s LGBT+ people, Zelensky grew visibly irritated.

“Regarding LGBT: I don’t want to say anything negative because we all live in an open society where each one can choose the language they speak, their ethnicity and [sexual] orientation,” he said.

“Leave those finally at peace, for God’s sake!”

LGBT-free Zone stickers are distributed with the latest issue of Polish conservative weekly newspaper 'Gazeta Polska'. Krakow, Poland on 24 July, 2019.

LGBT-free Zone stickers distributed with Polish conservative weekly magazine Gazeta Polska. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty)

The Ukrainian president’s passionate stance against homophobia is notable in a region where anti-LGBT+ sentiment is growing fast.

In neighbouring Poland, the leading ultra-nationalist Law and Justice party secured a majority in the general election after basing their election campaign on tackling the supposed “threat” of LGBT+ people.

Meanwhile in Russia, the LGBT+ community has been living in fear of a gay-hunting website based on the Saw movies and a Chechnyan ‘anti-gay purge’ that is torturing and illegally detaining LGBT+ people.