The LGBTQ rights debate is testing Ukraine’s commitment to Europe

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04/25/2023

When Russian troops swarmed Kyiv in early 2022, Andrii Kravchuk was summoned to serve. As he approached the military office to enlist, his heart raced. He wasn’t afraid to defend his country. But as a gay man, he knew that he would have fewer rights than most Ukrainians should he be sent to the front line. A slender man of 54, with piercing blue eyes and a gentle manner, Andrii knew that if anything happened to him on the battlefield, Yurii, his partner of nearly 25 years, would not be able to make medical decisions on his behalf. If Andrii died, Yurii would not be allowed to pick up his body from the morgue or arrange a funeral. Under Ukrainian law, the love of Andrii’s life would be little more than a stranger. Following the 2014 Maidan revolution that overthrew a pro-Kremlin leader and installed a president dedicated to pursuing integration with the West, Ukraine took a handful of steps toward protecting its LGBTQ population, including an amendment to Ukraine’s labor code that made it illegal to fire a person on the basis of their sexuality. “The Ukrainian LGBTQ movement never had any support from our authorities until around 2015,” Andrii told me.

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