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9 Jul, 2022 15:58

Zelensky to consider gay marriage petition

While the Ukrainian leader is obliged to examine the issue, the public overwhelmingly opposes same-sex unions
Zelensky to consider gay marriage petition

A petition calling on Volodymyr Zelensky to legalize gay marriage will be considered by the Ukrainian president after it attracted 25,000 signatures. While Ukrainian flags have been flown at pride parades throughout the Western world, gay marriage is extremely unpopular in Ukraine itself.

Filed in early June, the petition recently passed 25,000 signatures, a threshold that means Zelensky must respond. Referencing the current conflict in Ukraine, the petition reads “at this time, every day can be the last. Let people of the same sex get the opportunity to start a family and have an official document to prove it. They need the same rights as traditional couples.”

Zelensky’s stance on the issue is unclear. Despite positioning himself as a liberal during his 2019 election campaign and stating during his first press conference that he didn’t “want to say anything negative” about gay people, lawmakers from his party have tried to introduce bills criminalizing the “propaganda of homosexuality and transgenderism.”

Although Ukraine under Zelensky has been pursuing greater integration with the West, gay rights activists at home seem unhappy with the comedian-turned-president. For instance, while Zelensky signed a joint statement with US President Joe Biden last September promising to “fight…discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community,” activists in Kiev have demanded that he fire one of his top advisors, Alexey Arestovich, for calling them “deviant.”

Ukrainian colors have been hoisted at gay pride events throughout the West, with the Irish government even integrating the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag into the LGBT rainbow in an announcement welcoming gay Ukrainian refugees. Yet back in Ukraine, polling has found that between 9% and 24% of the public think two members of the same sex should be allowed marry.

Furthermore, 14% of Ukrainians surveyed in 2019 said that homosexuality should be accepted by society, while 6% in 2020 considered homosexuality “justifiable.” These values are broadly comparable with surrounding countries in Eastern Europe.