Ukraine’s Zelensky vows to consider same-sex marriage – once war is over

A photo shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wearing a dark green t-shirt as he speaks into two microphones

Volodymyr Zelensky has confirmed that he will ask Ukraine’s government to look into legalising same-sex marriage after the war with Russia ends.

Ukraine’s constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

But last month, a petition calling for the legalisation of marriage equality in Ukraine gained more than 28,000 signatures, passing the 25,000 threshold required for it to be considered by the president.

The petition cited Ukraine’s constitution, which states that “all people are free and equal in their dignity and rights”, and that “human rights are inalienable and inviolable”.

On Tuesday (2 August), Zelensky formally responded. According to Reuters, in an official decree, he said: “I asked prime minister [Denys] Shmyhal to address the issue raised in the electronic petition and to inform me of relevant decisions.”

However, he noted that no changes would be made while the war with Russia was ongoing, as according to Article 157 of the Constitution of Ukraine: “In conditions of war or a state of emergency, the Constitution of Ukraine cannot be changed.”

LGBTQ+ rights activists are asking for civil partnerships to be considered in the meantime, especially as without recognition of same-sex partnerships, the partners of LGBTQ+ soldiers who have died while fighting the Russian invasion cannot collect their bodies to bury them.

Kyiv Pride said in a statement: “The Institute of Registered Civil Partnerships is the best alternative in the current situation, and the government, led by the president, gave us a positive signal that the implementation [of same-sex marriage] is now only a matter of time!”

Just 24 per cent of Ukrainians support same-sex marriage, according to a poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, and in 2021, another survey showed that 47 per cent of Ukrainians had a negative view of the LGBTQ+ community.

Responding to Zelensky’s decree, queer Ukrainian journalist Maksym Eristavi noted: “This historic promise is not a gift or twist of fate. Years of hard work by queer Ukrainians putting our lives on the line for equal rights made it possible.

“Tens of thousands of queer Ukrainians defending our country in this genocide made it possible.

“Now it is also up to us, queer Ukrainians, to make sure that a historic commitment results in historic action. And rest assured, we will make it done. Because that’s what Ukrainian civil society is all about – making historic s**t done.”