A queer Ukrainian soldier fighting off the Russian invasion is calling for the urgent legalisation of same-sex partnerships in Ukraine.
Anna “Kajhan” Zyablikova, a soldier serving in the 47th Brigade of Ukraine’s armed forces, believes that legalising partnerships between same-sex couples is a simple move that would positively impact LGBTQ soldiers.
Under the current law, same-sex couples cannot visit a wounded partner on life support or adopt their child during the war. Zyablikova says this puts “huge psychological” pressure on them, particularly in the context of war, where soldiers are acutely aware that they may die at any moment.
Speaking with inews, Zyablikova points out that there have been reports of fellow Ukrainians rushing to get married since the war broke out last year to ensure that their partners are protected if anything were to happen to them. However, same-sex couples cannot do this, as they have no legal rights to make decisions about their partners’ care or funeral arrangements.
“I feel like something is taken from me every time I see one of our soldiers is getting married, as I think of the fact that I can’t do it if I want to do it with a woman,” Zyablikova explained.
In August, a 28,500-strong petition calling for same-sex marriage was reviewed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. However, Zelensky stated that the constitution, which defines marriage as a union between men and women, could not be changed during the war. However, he suggested the possibility of civil partnerships and called on the prime minister to review the matter.
Since then, there has been no development on the case, despite efforts by some MPs to speed up the process.
Zyablikova believes that the ability to legally protect and support their partners is essential for LGBTQ+ soldiers who are vulnerable in a time of war and argues that denying same-sex couples the opportunity to protect and support each other during wartime is unfair.
“We can die any day, so everyone is trying to make all the decisions that are about relationships and communication.”