War Between Russia and Ukraine: Live Updates – The New York Times

Credit…Ephraim Lukatsky/Associated Press

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, responding on Tuesday to a citizen’s petition calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ukraine, raised the issue of “civil partnerships” but said the constitutional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman could not be changed in wartime.

mr. Zelensky replied after petition received the support of more than 25,000 Ukrainians. Ukraine does not recognize the right to marry same-sex couples and does not have a law allowing them to enter into civil unions. Calls have grown to give these couples equal rights in part because of the casualties of LGBTQ soldiers helping the country fight a brutal Russian invasion.

According to the decrees of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, servicemen must inform the parents and spouse or other close relatives of the deceased serviceman. But these rules do not apply to same-sex couples who cannot legally marry.

In Ukraine, same-sex couples do not automatically have the right to visit a hospitalized partner, share property, care for the children of a deceased partner, claim the body of a partner who died in the war, or receive a death benefit from the state. .

The petition calling on the city of Zelensky to support marriage rights for same-sex couples was initiated by 24-year-old Anastasia Sovenko, an English teacher from Zaporozhye in southern Ukraine who identifies as bisexual.

She said that after reading an article about straight soldiers rushing to marry their partners before going to war, she felt sad, angry and frustrated that LGBTQ soldiers didn’t have that opportunity.

mr. Zelensky wrote in his response that democratic societies are partly measured by how they protect equal rights for all citizens and that “every citizen is an indivisible part of civil society, which is subject to all the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine. “.

“All men are free and equal in dignity and rights,” he wrote.

mr. Zelenskiy, however, noted that the Ukrainian constitution states that “marriage is based on the free consent of a woman and a man” and said the document could not be changed during martial law, which he announced in Februaryafter the Russian invasion.

At the same time, Mr. Zelensky wrote that the government “worked out options for a solution regarding the legalization of registered civil partnerships in Ukraine under the auspices of work to confirm and protect human rights and freedoms.”

He added that he asked Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal to consider the issue raised in the petition and report back on his findings.

“The answer is more positive than it could be”, Inna Sovsunan opposition lawmaker from the liberal pro-LGBTQ rights party Golos wrote on facebook. “But at the same time, it’s not clear enough.”

Since amending the Constitution is now impossible, she wrote, civil partnerships would be “an acceptable temporary alternative.”

“But where are the options that the president is talking about?” Mrs. Sovsun wrote. “Why are they not brought up for discussion and submitted to Parliament?”

Mrs. Sovenko, the petitioner, said she was glad that Mr. Zelenskiy had mentioned civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

“This is the beginning,” she wrote in an email. She said she was “full of hope” that after the war, the government would allow same-sex couples to get married.

“I am proud that the reaction was not completely negative,” she said, “and I am very glad that this happened.”

The push for same-sex marriage is facing strong opposition in a country where Eastern Orthodoxy and traditional sexual mores are deeply ingrained in the social fabric. Opponents include some conservative members of the Mr. Zelensky’s own party, which has called for legislation to fine “propaganda of homosexuality.”

But gay rights advocates in Ukraine hope Mr. Zelenskiy will eventually support same-sex marriage rights, helping the country shore up its liberal reputation as it seeks to join the European Union and move closer to the West.

Maham Javid as well as Dan Bilefsky made a report. David Kurkovsky did the translation.