Photos 11:22 17 May 2024

Solutions from Ukraine: Ukrainian activists launch campaign to support LGBTQ+ military personnel

On May 17, the International Day against homo-/bi-/transphobia, several cities adorned their streets with posters featuring Ukrainian LGBTQ+ soldiers. Additionally, portraits were displayed in certain establishments in the capital.

Rubryka reports this.

What is the problem?

LGBTQ+ military personnel in Ukraine are not able to legally formalize their relationships due to the lack of marriage equality. This means they are excluded from the attention of the state and society, as they do not have equal rights and opportunities as other citizens.

"People in same-sex relationships can't make decisions for their partner in crises, get access to intensive care, bury them, inherit joint property in the event of death. These are just some of the things that are not available to LGBTQ+ people, let alone everyday homophobia and discrimination," Yakiv Lavrynets, co-organizer of KharkivPride, says.

In other words, even though Ukrainian men and women face constant danger to their lives, some are still without legal protection. The passing of draft law No.9103 on registered (civil) partnerships could be a significant move towards complete equality.

What is the solution?

Rizni.Rivni and KharkivPride, together with support from RFSL, have officially launched an information campaign in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Lviv to advocate for the union of LGBTQ+ military personnel. The primary objective is to dismantle harmful stereotypes and biases towards the LGBTQ+ community. At the same time, the campaign hopes to bring attention to the unequal treatment and limited rights faced by LGBTQ+ military personnel.

"I simply want equal rights like everyone else, to marry without any spectacle and have a quiet family celebration. Once the laws of Ukraine fully protect me like any other citizen, I can be sure that the state safeguards my family. This will allow me to fulfill my duties effectively," Alina Shevchenko, a military woman and a lesbian, says.

How does it work?

Each poster accompanies a QR code with the personal story of the Ukrainian defender. The stories are full of struggles, challenges, and love stories. The stories also contain a link to a bot where everyone can write a letter to the Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine's parliament—ed.] in support of draft law #9103 and thus bring equality closer.

The campaign will continue until the end of May; people can see the faces of defenders on the streets of Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Lviv. Their stories can be read at the provided link.

According to Rizni, Rivni, LGBTQ+ military, and KharkivPride's pages, they faced homophobia from advertising companies while creating the campaign. As a result, the campaign became a form of protest through widespread postering in three major Ukrainian cities.

"It is not for nothing that the campaign's release is timed to the day against homophobia. The initial idea was that the portraits of the defenders were to appear on the screens and city lights of Ukrainian cities. However, all the agencies we contacted behaved homophobically—or ignored us, or refused placement citing non-existent laws. We are currently dealing with the legal issues," Alina Korinieva, coordinator of the "Rizni.Rivni" public association platform, says.

Viktor Pylypenko, a veteran of the Russian-Ukrainian war and head of the "LGBTQ+ Military" association, also commented on homophobia on the part of advertising holdings and the refusal to place the campaign:

"We protect the country on an equal footing with everyone else; they applaud us and "pray" for us. But when we want to show the faces of defenders who do not have equal rights with everyone else, they prefer to avoid us."

For reference:

It should be noted that on March 13, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine registered draft law No. 9103, "On the Institute of Registered Partnerships." This document creates an institute of registered partnerships in Ukraine, which will be available to both same-sex and heterosexual couples.

According to the draft law, civil partners are equated with close relatives. They have property and inheritance rights and social protection but cannot adopt children and take custody of them.

On April 26, a petition supporting registered partnerships for same-sex and opposite-sex couples gained the required 25,000 signatures on the president's website. On May 26, a response from President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared.

On October 19, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Justice supported draft law No. 9103, which aims to allow Ukrainian citizens to enter into registered (civil) partnerships.

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