Gay war veteran speaks out for equal rights in Ukraine’s military By Reuters
© Reuters. Viktor Pylypenko is a Ukrainian war vet who fought against pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s eastern region. He poses with his uniform in Kyiv on September 1, 2021. Pylypenko came out publicly as gay in 2018 and co-founded a non-g
By Margaryta Chornokondratenko
KYIV (Reuters) – Viktor Pylypenko has become a role model for dozens of LGBT+ Ukrainian war veterans and their supporters since he organised their participation two years ago in Kyiv’s largest ever gay pride march.
Pylypenko (34), spent nearly two years fighting alongside Kyiv’s forces in the battle against Russian-backed separatists, in an conflict which has claimed more than 14,000 lives. In 2018, he came out as gay.
Pylypenko said that his personal struggle against the enslavement and freedom of a person’s human rights was a continuation of (LGBT activism).
He also identifies a link between his sexual orientation, the cause he claims he is fighting, a free and sovereign Ukraine where all citizens have equal rights.
“I went to the frontline to show my support for the separatists because they would like to strip us all of our freedoms, and they also want to deny freedom to the whole of Ukraine. He said that he was a gay man and that he felt very sensitive about this.
Pylypenko said he has established a nongovernmental organization to assist LGBT+ soldiers.
He believes having more LGBT+ people serving in the military, a respected institution in Ukraine, can help overcome prejudice towards sexual minorities in the ex-Soviet republic.
Pylypenko says that “the military can change society’s attitudes. They have the reputation and they have trust. They have defended Ukraine’s peace.” He comes from a family of military personnel who he claims has accepted his sexuality.
In recent years, Ukraine’s Western-backed government increased its support for LGBT+ rights. Although workplace discrimination was banned by Parliament in 2015, homophobic views remain widespread.
Counter-protests organized by religious and far-right activists regularly take place at gay pride marches. The city police deployed a substantial force to protect and maintain order after the 2015 Kyiv pride march was disrupted in violent attacks.
Pylypenko claimed that his dream was for the armed forces to participate in the gay pride march “as allies, and to enjoy and be able to appreciate the fact that they reside in a developing country with equality in human rights. They aren’t ashamed to talk about homosexuality, but openly support it.
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