June 16, 2022

LGBTQ Rights in Ukraine: What You Need to Know

With the world's eyes on Ukraine, many of us are wondering about the state of gay rights in the besieged country. Although Ukraine is not the worst country in the world for LGBT rights, it's not the best one, either. Here's a rundown of LGBTQ rights in Ukraine.

1. Trans folks and folks with alternate gender identity are still treated unfairly

As folks struggled to get to safety following the sudden Russian invasion of Ukraine, there were incidental reports of LGBTQ people being prevented from fleeing the country. As NBC reported, several trans folks reported difficulties in finding safety after the war had started.

One person reported that, when they tried to change legal gender, they were told that they would have to spend a month in a psychiatric hospital. Though getting legal recognition for your gender is now easier in Ukraine, it is still challenging to be recognized in their own country.

2. Same sex marriages are still illegal

Even outside of war time, same sex marriage is unfortunately not legal in Ukraine. Marriage is defined as a voluntary relationship between two opposite gender people, which completely excludes same sex marriage from legal recognition.

Marriage equality is the classic milestone for the LGBT community, and unfortunately, it has not yet been achieved for Ukrainian LGBT. Ukraine will, hopefully, some day, allow same sex couples to express their love after the war.

3. Single people can adopt, but same sex couples cannot

The blistering report on Ukraine's treatment of LGBT rights and sexual orientation continues. Many people dream of adopting, but if you're part of the LGBT community in Ukraine, that's likely not possible. Or, only one of you will be able to adopt the child.

4. There are equal rights and anti-hate crime laws

As public opinion has moved, the Ukrainian government has moved to establish equal rights and ban discrimination against people for their gender identity or sexual orientation. So, while same sex marriage might be off the table, at least some forms of employment discrimination are prohibited.

Of course, with the war, all bets are off. Russia has an abysmal LGBT rights record, and activists opposing discrimination are regularly jailed on dubious legal grounds. LGBT people in Ukraine are advised to stay far away from the war, and if possible, flee to a safer location. Organizations like Human Rights Watch are observing the war.

5. There is hope for the Ukrainian LGBT community yet

Just because things are dark, that doesn't mean there's no hope for LGBT people in Ukraine. Every year, human rights are improving. In major cities like Kiev, an annual gay pride parade helps keep LGBT rights at the forefront of the news.

The LGBT community has a long way to go in Ukraine, but LGBT rights are sure to progress once the country settles back down. I'm sure that residents are looking forward to the future Kyiv pride march and other events around the country during peace time.

Final thoughts

Are you in Ukraine? Do you know more about LGBT rights and LGBT people in Ukraine? Let me know. I'd love to share the voices of those who are impacted by the violence in Ukraine.

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