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ADDED ON: 11/09/2020

LGBTQ rights in Ukraine and the false dawn of Zelenskyy

11/09/2020 | Atlantic Council

The election of showbiz star Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the youngest ever president of Ukraine in spring 2019 was cheered by many in the country’s LGBTQ community. His election campaign was based on progressive and liberal slogans, fueling hopes for the acceleration of the pro-European reforms launched during the presidency of his predecessor Petro Poroshenko. Although Zelenskyy made no specific promises on the campaign trail regarding same-sex marriage, his commitment to legalize the gambling sector and use of broadly inclusive language encouraged expectations of similarly liberal stances on other social questions. Things have not worked out entirely as expected. Instead of maintaining Ukraine’s European integration, Zelenskyy’s first eighteen months in office have witnessed a resurgence in pro-Kremlin influence and a marked decline in official support for liberal social policies. Meanwhile, proposed new legislation drafted by MPs from Zelenskyy’s own Servant of the People party targets “homosexual propaganda” in language that appears to be borrowed directly from neighboring Russia. This has left observers puzzled over Zelenskyy’s true attitude towards LGBTQ rights and other social issues.

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