Ukrainian Christians mixed over gay marriage


Eastern Europe


Photo AFP, Geoff Robins

Some Ukrainian Christians are concerned about the emancipation of gay couples in the country. Others support this precisely to put a heel on Russia.

Should Ukraine officially recognise gay relationships? This is currently being debated in the war-struck country. It all came after the European Court of Human Rights stated that Ukraine violates human rights by not recognising gay relationships.

The European Court ruled after a Ukrainian gay couple appealed against national decisions. Ukraine did not want to recognise their form of cohabitation because the country’s Constitution defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Since this was not the case, their situation was not recognised. But the European Court did recognise the couple’s request. With this ruling, Ukraine should amend its legislation.

But not everyone agrees. The Ukrainian Council of Churches released a statement on Wednesday calling such initiatives “extremely dangerous during the current demographic crisis in Ukraine”. It, therefore, calls on President Zelensky and parliament not to pass laws giving gay couples equal rights.


Ukraine has described marriage exclusively as a relationship between a man and a woman in the Constitution. But the country has neither recognised a form of civil union of alternative relations as homosexual couples. The European Court might have decided differently if it had had that.

According to the Council of Churches, the decisions of the ECHR “cannot serve as a basis for changing the constitutional principles of the country”. And “neither the European Court nor the Council of Europe has the authority to change the legislation of any state.”

To qualify for possible accession to the European Union, the country will try to align itself with the European community as much as possible. That means it wants to adopt Western values if only to put a spanner in Russia’s works. Photo AFP, Saeed Khan

Indeed, the Council raises the suggestion that this is a predetermined plan. “We understand that international institutions and foreign partners, using our country’s vulnerability and difficult situation, may try to force Ukraine to make legislative changes to abandon its family foundations.” However, argue the churches, “Ukraine lives in a continental legal system, where the fundamental principles of life are determined by the Constitution and laws, and not by court decisions.”

According to the Churches, only the Ukrainian people decide on such constitutional changes. “As much as supporters of gender ideology would like to use the mentioned decision of the ECHR and external influences to rewrite the Constitution of Ukraine and destroy the value of the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, only the people of Ukraine have the sovereign right to decide such issues.”


Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has put the LGBT community in Ukraine on the map. Since the war, Ukraine has literally and figuratively turned away from the East and turned its face towards Europe. To qualify for possible accession to the European Union, the country will try to align itself with the European community as much as possible. That means it wants to adopt Western values if only to put a spanner in Russia’s works. For example, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry recently changed its logo to rainbow colours, with the caption “#EqualityForAll, #Pride2023.” The statement led to mixed reactions.

Another striking example is Andrii Kozhemiakin, a conservative MP who emphasises his Christian values and love of family. Against all odds, he supports a proposal to give gay couples legal status. “Anything that our enemy hates … I will support,” Kozhemiakin 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.”


This is not the first time the Christian community in Ukraine has stirred the issue. Earlier this week, a member of parliament hated a pastor who expressed concerns about this, saying, “What planet are you from, darling.” Ms Sovsun called Christians “detached from real life” when they would argue for traditional family structures.

Whether Ukraine will change its family laws remains to be seen. Following a European Court’s decision, Ukraine has to provide justice to the individual. It is then up to Ukraine to choose how they end the violation of the human right. A change in the Constitution is possible, but not under martial law, only when the war is over. Since that is not the case, new legislation might take a while.



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.