LGBTQ+ Soldiers in Kyiv Demand Equal Rights Amid War

Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers from the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters marched in central Kyiv, demanding more rights. They aimed to highlight their service in the war against Russia. Many protesters wore rainbow and unicorn patches on their uniforms, calling for the right to marry, according to the Associated Press.

Billed as a "pride march," the demonstration lacked the celebratory atmosphere of peacetime events and took place under heavy rain and police protection amid threats from counterprotesters. The participation of the LGBTQ+ community in the armed forces is believed to have shifted public attitudes towards same-sex partnerships in the socially conservative country.

"We are ordinary people who fight on an equal footing with everyone else, but we are deprived of the rights that other people have," said Dimitriy Pavlov, a soldier who moved with a cane in hand.

Activists are advocating for legal reforms to allow same-sex partners to make medical decisions for wounded soldiers and arrange funerals for war victims. They argue that enhancing LGBTQ+ rights would further differentiate Ukraine from Russia, where such rights are severely restricted.

Officials from the US embassy and several European embassies attended the march. Organizers faced challenges, as city officials rejected a petition to hold the event in a subway station. The march was condemned by branches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which labeled it a left-wing, radical political movement aimed at undermining the family institution and weakening Ukrainian society during the war.

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