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attributed to him…Ephrem Lukatsky/The Associated Press

On Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky, in response to a citizen’s petition calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ukraine, raised the possibility of “civil partnerships”, but said that the constitution’s definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman does not change during wartime.

Mr. Zelensky was responding after the petition, which won the support of more than 25,000 Ukrainians. Ukraine does not recognize the marriage rights of same-sex couples, nor does it have a law allowing them to enter into civil marriages. Calls for granting these couples equal rights have grown in part because of the sacrifices of LGBTQ soldiers helping the country fight the brutal Russian invasion.

Under Ukrainian Ministry of Defense regulations, the military must inform the parents, wife or other close relatives of a soldier who has been killed. But these rules do not apply to same-sex couples who are not legally able to marry.

In Ukraine, same-sex couples do not have the automatic right to visit a hospitalized partner, share property ownership, care for a deceased partner’s children, claim the body of a partner killed in war or collect state death benefits.

The petition urging Mr. Zelensky to support marriage rights for same-sex couples was initiated by Anastasia Sovenko, 24, an English teacher from Zaporizhia, in southern Ukraine, who identifies as bisexual.

She said that after reading an article about heterosexual soldiers rushing to marry their partners before heading off to war, she was sad, angry, and frustrated that LGBT soldiers didn’t have that choice.

Mr. Zelensky, in his response, wrote that democratic societies are measured in part by the way they defend the equal rights of all citizens and that “every citizen is an integral part of civil society, to which all rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine extend.”

“All people are free and equal in their dignity and rights,” he wrote.

However, Mr. Zelensky noted that the Constitution of Ukraine states that “marriage is based on the free consent of the woman and the man,” and said that the document cannot be changed during a state of martial law, Announced in Februaryafter the invasion of Russia.

At the same time, Mr. Zelensky wrote, the government “has developed options for a solution regarding the legalization in Ukraine of civil partnerships registered under the auspices of the work to assert and protect human rights and freedoms.”

He added that he had asked the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Denis Shmyal, to review the issue raised by the petition and to report on his findings.

“The response is more positive than it could have been,” Ina Sofson, an opposition lawmaker with the liberal Holos party, which supports LGBT rights, wrote on Facebook. “But at the same time – it is not clear enough.”

She wrote that since amendments to the constitution are now impossible, civil partnerships would be an “acceptable temporary alternative.”

“However, where are the options the president is talking about?” Ms. Sofson wrote. “Why is it not presented for discussion and not presented to Parliament?”

Ms. Sovinko, the petition’s author, said she was pleased that Mr. Zelensky mentioned civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

“This is the beginning,” she wrote in an email. She said she was “full of hope” that, after the war, the government would give same-sex couples a chance to marry.

“I’m proud that the response wasn’t all negative, and I’m really glad that this happened,” she said.

The drive for same-sex marriage is facing significant resistance in a country where Eastern Orthodox religion and traditional sexual mores are deeply embedded in the social fabric. Among the opponents are some conservative members of Mr Zelensky’s party, who have called for a law to fine “homosexual propaganda”.

But gay rights advocates in Ukraine hope that Mr. Zelensky will eventually support same-sex marriage rights, helping the country polish its liberal credentials as it seeks to join the European Union and move closer to the West.

Muhammad Javed And the and Belevsky Contribute to the preparation of reports. David Kurkowski contributed translation.

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