Ukraine ambassador makes historic stand with ‘inseparable’ LGBTQ+ community and brave queer soldiers

The US ambassador for Ukraine

Ukraine’s ambassador to the US spoke out in support of the LGBTQ+ community at an exhibition in Washington.

Oksana Markarova was attending a photo exhibition of LGBTQ+ Ukrainian military members on Thursday (26 January), marking the first time an ambassador from the country has attended an LGBTQ-focused event.

Ambassador Markarova described the LGBTQ+ community as “inseparable” during the event at Ukraine House, Washington Blade reports.

“[The] LGBTQ+ community is an inseparable community of us, whether it’s here or in Ukraine,” Markarova said.

“The faster we can stop any discrimination, the faster we will win, not only in the battlefield in Ukraine, but we also will win globally,” she continued. “It’s unbelievable and [the] ultimate sacrifice to be there in harm’s way.”

The US exhibit showcases various photographers and was organised by LGBTQ Ukrainians in America, the Ukrainian Union of the LGBT Military and KyivPride.

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Viktor Pylipenko, a gay Ukrainian soldier and founder of the Ukrainian Union of the LGBT Military, spoke at the event via video, but was quickly cut off due to a missile attack from Russian forces.

In-person speakers included Lenny Emson, the director of Kyivpride. Markarova praised Ukrainian LGBTQ+ activists for all their tireless work in ensuring the community was seen and heard.

Adressing Emson, Markarova said: “Thank you for everything you do in Kyiv and thank you for everything that you do in order to fight the discrimination that still is somewhere in Ukraine.

“Not everything is perfect yet, but you know, I think we are moving in the right direction. And we together will not only fight the external enemy but also will see equality.”

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

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky holds a press conference with the heads of state of France, Germany and Romania, at Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv, on June 16, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In December, Ukrainian legislators approved a bill that would ban media-based hate speech based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It came 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.

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.”

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.”