War-torn: Ukraine and the future of gay marriage

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War-torn: Ukraine and the future of gay marriage

Since the Russian invasion, Ukraine has tried to align itself with Western Europe. Will the current war move Ukraine to legalise gay marriage?

The moral wall between East and West

Earlier this year, EARS published an article about the moral narrative behind Russian war propaganda. According to this narrative, the Russian invasion is a defensive war that protects the holy East from the immoral West. Patriarch Kirill, spiritual leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, is known for promoting this religious narrative. Western culture is portrayed as profane, sinful, and immoral. Its liberal values, with gender and sexual freedoms in particular, are perceived as a threat to Russia’s religious and traditional values.

The advocacy of LGBTQ+ rights in the West has been mentioned as a primary motive for the Russian invasion. When the war began, Patriarch Kirill pointed towards the situation in the Ukrainian Donbas. He said that the traditional values of this region were threatened by a Western ideology that promotes gay parades. According to Kirill, the West perceives gay parades as a test of loyalty: new states are admitted into Western circles only if they are willing to organise gay parades. In his view, the war is meant to combat this supposedly dangerous ideology of the West.[1]

The Ukrainian dilemma

It is evident that there is a rift between Eastern Orthodox and Western liberal values. This rift is also felt in Ukraine. Since the Russian invasion, Ukraine has turned away from Russia and tried to align itself with Western Europe. This has forced Ukraine to contemplate the future of LGBTQ+ rights in the country. According to some, Ukraine needs to legalise gay marriage if it wants to belong to the Western European community.[2]

The Family Code of Ukraine explicitly defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. For this reason, it does not currently recognise same-sex marriage. According to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), this means that Ukraine violates human rights. In order to legalise gay marriage, Ukraine would need to change its constitution. But as long as the country is in a state of war, this is constitutionally forbidden.[3]

The debate over same-sex marriage

As a result of the war, gay marriage has become an important agenda item in Ukraine. In March 2023, Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun submitted a draft bill calling for the recognition of same-sex partnerships. When the war with Russia ends, Zelensky will ask his government to look into the legalisation of same-sex marriage.[4] In addition, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine updated its logo by incorporating rainbow colours and including the hashtags “#EqualityForAll” and “#Pride2023.” Christian-conservative politician Andrii Kozhemiakin also expressed his support of gay marriage: “Anything that our enemy hates … I will support,” he said. “If it never exists in Russia, it should exist and be supported here, to show them and signal to them that we are different. This law is like a smile towards Europe and a middle finger to Russia. So I support it.”[5]

Not everyone in Ukraine supports LGBTQ+ rights, however. The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations believes that gay marriage is “an attack on the institution of marriage and family established by God and the Constitution of Ukraine.”[6] The council also thinks that introducing gay marriage would be “extremely dangerous during the current demographic crisis in Ukraine.”[7] Christian Pastor Vasyl Boyechko even stated that the legalisation of same-sex partnerships would be “many times worse than the aggression of the northern satanic despot.”[8]

The future of gay marriage in Ukraine

The Russian invasion has forced Ukraine to turn its back on Russia and reach out to Western Europe. In order to belong to the Western community, the country needs to review its values and stance on same-sex partnerships. Will the current war move Ukraine to advocate LGBTQ+ rights and legalise gay marriage?

Zonne Dijkstra

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[1] Patriarcha Moskwy w kazaniu broni wojny Putina. Mówi też o “paradach gejów”

[2] Ukrainian Christians mixed over gay marriage

[3] Ukraine obliged to recognise same-sex relationshipsS

[4] Ukraine MP submits bill to legally recognise same-sex partnerships

[5] Ukrainian Christians mixed over gay marriage

[6] Ukrainian churches oppose same-sex partnership bill

[7] Ukrainian Christians mixed over gay marriage

[8] “What planet are you from, darling”, asks Ukrainian MP pastor about traditional marriage