Ukraine passes LGBTQ+ hate speech ban in ‘big step’ for equality

The Ukraine and Pride flags

Ukraine has passed a bill banning hate speech against LGBTQ+ people in the media.

The legislation, banning hate speech and incitement based on sexual orientation and gender identity, was unanimously approved on 15 December, LGBTQ Nation reported.

“It’s a big step for Ukraine, to start adoption of our legislation to European values,” Olena Shevchenko, chair of Ukrainian LGBTQ+ rights group Insight, told The Washington Blade.

“We hope our government will recognise LGBTQI people as equal as soon as possible.”

The bill comes after the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, confirmed that he will ask Ukraine’s government to look into legalising same-sex marriage after the war with Russia ends.

Over the summer, 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.

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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”.

Zelensky formally responded, claiming: “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 could be made to the constitution – which defines marriage as between a man and a woman – while the war with Russia was ongoing.

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.”

A photo shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wearing a dark green t-shirt as he speaks into two microphones
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has confirmed he will ask Ukraine’s government to consider legalising same-sex marriage after the war with Russia ends. (AFP via Getty/ SERGEI SUPINSKY)

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.”

While Ukraine is pushing forward with pro-LGBTQ+ legislation, Russia has made steps backward, expanding its draconian “gay propaganda”, so that the ban on “promoting” LGBTQ+ material or education now encompasses Russian people of all ages. 

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