Will Same-Sex Civil Unions Law Pass in the Ukraine?

The headline to this piece in VZGLIAD reads: “Homosexuals have driven a wedge through the Ukrainian government.”  The piece is written by a reporter named Yury Zainashev, and the lede is that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenuk wants to pass, within a year, a gay rights legal package, including civil unions; whereas the rest of the Ukrainian government does not want to touch this issue with a 10-foot pole.

Ukraine:  Special Case Or Basket Case?

Yatsenuk would like to see his country aligned legally, as far as family law is concerned, with the countries of Western Europe as well as the English-speaking world (North America, Great Britain, Australia) — for the purposes of brevity I will henceforth just call all these types of countries “The West”.  In the West civil-union legislation is common.  This legislation generally enjoys the support of the majority of the populations.  These countries all went through a process, over the decades, of increasing tolerance and even acceptance, not just of human homosexuality, but also of  what used to be called “unwed mothers”, single-motherhood and that living arrangement which used to be called “common-law marriage”.  The next step was to develop further legal mechanisms to regulate civil unions, marriage, divorce, and division of property, especially among non-traditional (i.e., “gay”) couples.

Yatsenuk and his traditional family.

In the rest of the world, however, this process of acceptance and legalization, especially of homosexual unions, has not taken place.  Therefore, attempts to impose Western cultural and legal norms are usually resisted by a traditionally-minded population, who regard this as a form of “missionary imposition” upon their native cultures.

The Ukraine, a traditional Slavic type society, is considered a special case.  Because, just like Gruzia as well, the country was coveted by the EU/NATO for geo-strategic reasons.  The Ukrainians, like the Gruzians, were promised that they could be full-fledged Europeans EXCEPT FOR this one little thing, which they don’t approve of.  They were promised that integration into the EU would not force them to accept gay marriages.  And indeed Ukraine could have enjoyed this special cultural and legal waiver IF it had been found more pleasing to the EU leadership.

Some cynics see Yatsenuk’s earnestness in proposing this legislation at the current time, as a simple flailing around, an attempt to curry favor and win back the good disposition of those who put him in power.  Especially at this particular time, when the Netherlands Referendum looks to be disappointing news for the Ukrainian government.

The Bread and Butter of Human Relationships

Just yesterday a package was laid out for the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers to peruse, which included legalization of civil unions, both same-sex and opposite-sex.  The proposed legislation takes into account such issues as property rights, inheritance, right of a partner to the other partner’s medical insurance and pension, the right to not have to testify in court against a “spouse”, i.e., the usual bread-and-butter issues.  The projected date for the implementation of this legislation is the second Quarter of 2017.  [yalensis:  I double-checked on google, and the Ukraine uses a Fiscal Year which is identical to the Calendar Year.  Hence, Q2 will be Apr-Jun 2017.]  The proposed legislation also goes one step further, and promises to allow transgender people [those are the ones who had surgery to change gender] to adopt children.  With the latter point coming into effect in Q4 of 2017.

But  Valery Patskan (member of the “Poroshenko Bloc” in government), who is the First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Supreme Rada on Human Rights,  National Minority Rights and International Relations — declared to the press that the legalization of same-sex civil unions is NOT on the table and could lead to a split in society.

M.P. Valery Patskan

Patskan is worried that same-sex legislation could lead to street protests and will wound the feelings of various religious confessions.

Patskan went on to dither, that some of the points in the legislation could very well be passed – the more bread-and-butter ones.  Provided they are presented in such a way as not to incite and anger the public.  Patskan also declared, to the surprise of some, that the EU never actually demanded of Ukraine that they pass such legislation, as a condition for EU membership.

Vitaly Kulik, Director of a Kiev think tank, confirmed to the VZGLIAD reporter, that the EU never demanded any of this from the Ukraine.  It only “recommended” that such legislation be passed, but did not require it.  On the other hand, this legislation actually WAS required as part of last November’s packet for the non-visa regime.  But that is almost moot, according to Kulik, since the Ukraine never complied with a whole series of other measures included in that particular packet.

Kulik goes on to say, that this is an issue of “tolerance”, which Ukrainian society is not yet ready for, but can be prepared for, over time.  Kulik’s proposed compromise plan is to allow homosexual couples a simplified process called “civil union”.  This will allow division of property and the regular bread-and-butter issues, without infringing on what society considers to be the proper institution of marriage.

Opponents of the Legislation

Last November, the Ukrainian Parliament and President proposed legal amendments prohibiting employment discrimination against sexual minorities.  During the debate in the Rada, arguments and fist-fights broke out.  The legislation could never pull enough votes to pass, until Speaker Vladimir Hroisman promised the legislators that the new laws would NEVER lead to gay marriage.  Because that was their biggest fear.

Speaker of the Rada Vladimir Hroisman

Apprehensions were also voiced by religious leaders such as Onufry, the “Mitropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine”, on behalf of the Moscow Patriarchate.  Onufry warned that the non-discrimination legislation was just the first step on a slippery slope that would lead to propaganda of the homosexual lifestyle, and to the eventual legalization of gay marriage.

Mitropolitan Onufry warns of slippery slope to gay sex.

But What Will the Dutch Think?

To add to the ferment, Eurocommissioner Jean-Claude Juncker unexpectedly announced, just a few days ago, that the Ukraine was not going to get into EU or NATO, certainly not within the next 20-25 years.  In other words:  NEVER.  This had to do, no doubt, with public agitation in the Netherlands surrounding the Referendum for Kiev-EU Association Agreement.

Again, cynics postulate that Yatsenuk’s latest efforts to pass the legislation might be geared to public opinion in the Netherlands.  The assumption being that Dutch citizens will look more favorably on the Ukrainians if they adopt such legislation (in Holland, gay marriage enjoys a wide popularity), and maybe even change their minds about accepting the new kid on the block.  Evgeny Balitsky, a Deputy from the Opposition Bloc, told the VZGLIAD reporter bitterly:  “I don’t know about Patskan’s sexual orientation, but I do know for a fact, that there is this tendency among us to want to please everybody and anybody who can help.  And I don’t mean help the Ukraine, I mean help the government, and the President, to keep their jobs.  Today they will jump for Holland, and for anyone else.”  Balitsky went on to doubt that the citizens of Holland will change their minds about the Ukraine:  “I don’t think that my country — my beloved country — is of use to anyone today, in this pitiful state that we are in.  Unfortunately!  We are not needed by anyone, barely alive, impoverished and degraded, to them we are just a source of cheap resources.”

Ukrainian politician Evgeny Balitsky

And Balitsky concluded:  “As the father of three sons, I see no future in a country whose government engages in such cheap tricks.  As Slavic countries, we don’t need to adopt this example from Europe.  I honestly do not wish to offend anyone, but at this time we have so many other much more serious issues to deal with, and yet we are preoccupied with this nonsense.  Our society has no problem with homosexuality, as such.  This (legislation) is simply an attempt to distract attention away from the real problems brought about by our current government.  A government which has dragged the people down to abject poverty, forced us into a conflict with our own neighbors, and introduced a wedge into society.”

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14 Responses to Will Same-Sex Civil Unions Law Pass in the Ukraine?

  1. Mao Cheng Ji says:

    I just read that in the US, among the “Generation Z” (13-20 y.o.) only 48% identify as heterosexual.
    https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/teens-these-days-are-queer-af-new-study-says
    I suppose this has to be significant, a watershed moment?

    I personally don’t care, but for those who do, the much demonized Russian “gay propaganda law” must seem like the deepest wisdom now…

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      I just believe that people should be honest about what they like and what they don’t like. Based on their hormones, their actual emotions, and not on ideology.

      Or, as the immortal Benny HIll used to say, “Ooh, what’s THIS thing called, luv?”

      Like

    • Jen says:

      I’d be suspicious of surveys and questionnaires in which 48% of kids aged 13 – 20 years identify as “heterosexual”. What young people may think is gay or straight could be very different from what we would think. A young person who may have had the odd thought or two about having sex with a person of the same sex as he or she is, among all the other hundreds of thoughts s/he’s had about sex, may be convinced on the basis of that odd thought that s/he is gay. Plus young people may think of homosexuality as a lifestyle choice that involves being employed in certain occupations, wearing certain clothes and accessories and living in certain neighbourhoods, and they might consider as gay anyone who follows that lifestyle in whole or in part, even if that person might be linked to somone of the opposite sex.

      Another possibility is that kids have come to see being “straight” as being boring, uncool and colourless, and if they want to be part of an in-crowd, then they might declare themselves “gay”.

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      • Mao Cheng Ji says:

        They were asked to define their sexuality on a scale from 1 to 6; 6 being 100% heterosexual. 48% chose 6. I don’t know what were the other ratios; most were, presumably, somewhere in the middle.

        Like

  2. Ryan Ward says:

    I think the trouble is that, with so much social agitation, “alternative sexualities” have gained a certain cool factor. I don’t believe for a second that all of a sudden and out of the blue 52% of young people have developed a significant and genuine attraction to their own sex, but it’s the cool thing now to be at least bisexual, so impressionable young people jump on board. They’ll probably grow out of it, except for the relatively small minority that do genuinely have a real chemical basis for their “identity”, but hardly without damage to their ability to think seriously about these kinds of matters and make serious and reliable commitments. Of course, as usually seems to be the case these days, it’s Gradgrind who wins in the end, as ever new vistas of frivolous consumerism open up for commercial exploitation.

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    • yalensis says:

      Dear Ryan:
      I think you are right about that. In the West it is “cool” among young people to claim to be bisexual, even if they aren’t. Also, when asked directly by the questionnaire, “What are you?” they might even think it sounds bigoted or uncool to write “heterosexual”.
      The questionnaire should probably be worded differently, it should ask: “Are you attracted to just girls, just boys, or both?”

      Fact is, it’s a numbers game, like you say. All available research that was ever done seems to indicate a steady statistic (which is good throughout human history, regardless of cultural influences) of 5-10% homo among men, and something a few points less among women.

      To me, this persistence just shouts out that there is something genetic or hormonal going on.
      But again, what do I know? And until biologists/geneticists can determine the exact mechanism for this phenomenon, then we’ll never really know, will we?

      Until then, it obviously behooves human beings to be tolerant of their fellows. “Laissez-faire”, as the French say. And I am forced to note that Russians have behaved more tolerantly, in this regard, than they are given credit for. It’s true that Russia does not have annual “gay pride” parades, which, by the way, have evolved, in the West, into just garish tourist attractions, much like Mardi Gras in Rio. And that’s okay, but people won’t be seeing that in Russia in the predictable future. On the other hand, actual physical sodomy is not a crime in Russia, unlike in many countries. Think Saudi Arabia. Also, even in the U.S., there are 17 states which still technically have sodomy laws on the books, albeit this was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2014.

      In any case, I am just making the point that Russia, while a traditional culture, is not so intolerant in this regard, and the Westies who use this issue to bait and punish Russia, are being dishonest dicks. We all know this type of person, who unfairly criticizes the mote in his neighbor’s eye. Whatever a mote is.

      Thus, I tend to agree with Balitsky, quoted in the piece above, that blowing this issue up, at this time, is just a gigantic distraction for basket-case countries like Ukraine. And just speaks to the way European leaders are “missionizing” and manipulating those populations. For nefarious reasons, I would add.

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  3. Fern says:

    yalensis, what you’ve written about civil partnerships is not quite correct, at least as far as the UK is concerned. Here, they are reserved exclusively for gay couples where a sexual relationship between the parties is assumed. Other couples in a non-sexual relationship such as siblings or friends living together have tried to avail themselves of the protections of civil partnership in such matters as inheritance tax but their applications have always failed.

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Oh, thanks for the correction, Fern.
      I think I was assuming, that, say, a heterosexual couple who is not formally married (but having sex with each other and living together in the same house) could also avail themselves of these laws?
      In the past, this used to be called a “civil marriage”, I think.
      Is this no longer the case?

      Also, how do the courts know that same-sex couple in question is having sex?
      Do they have to install cameras in the bedroom just to be sure? -heh heh!

      Like

      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – I just made an update to above post.
        In the first paragraph I took out the sentence about “civil unions” being common (in the West) among straight as well as gay couples. Apparently, that is not a true statement.

        I also changed the words “civil marriage” to “common-law marriage”, which is a better term, in English, for the concept in question.
        Although, to be sure, common-law marriage in Western countries does not guarantee anybody any rights. The whole point about a common-law marriage is that nothing is written down, there is no contract, and there is no paper trail.
        Therefore, if things go south with this relationship, you end up in the courtroom of, and at the mercy of, that bad-tempered bitch, Judge Judy.

        Therefore I implore you:

        People! Whether you gay or straight, whether you are marrying, divorcing, or just shacking up — go to a lawyer and DRAW UP A CONTRACT! This is just “common” sense – pun intended.

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        • Jen says:

          The kind of civil union legislation you wrote originally before Fern advised that the UK treats de facto or common law marriages differently from same-sex unions exists in New Zeland (Civil Union Act 2004). The text appears at this link:
          http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2004/0102/latest/DLM323385.html

          There is more information at this Kiwi govt link:
          https://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Services-Births-Deaths-and-Marriages-Civil-Union?OpenDocument

          I would add that the most important pieces of legal advice for most people would be to draw up a will and to appoint a Power of Attorney as well in the event that they are unable to handle their legal affairs (as a result of accident or illness) while their heirs may still be considered children or under the legal age of majority (usually 18 years of age in most countries).

          Most Western countries also recognise prenuptial and postnuptial agreements though they may not always be enforced and whether they are or not and how strictly can vary even within the same country (especially in the US and Canada / Quebec). Once again the UK drags its feet behind everyone else in not recognising prenups.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prenuptial_agreement

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          • yalensis says:

            Thanks, Jen!
            Sounds like New Zealand has the most advanced type of legislation in the Western world for regulating different types of human relationships.

            Seems only fair to me that “straight” couples should also avail themselves of “civil union” status, both for getting together and also later, when they break up.
            And you make a good point that assigning power of attorney is key to avoiding later kerfuffles, especially involving children. I have read a lot of horror stories about, for examples, grandparents trying to take kids away from the surviving partner, even though that was not the wish of the family.

            It is important to note, that even with good legislation in place, every person needs to take the responsibility to file the proper paperwork, in order to protect themself, their partner and/or spouse, and especially their children.

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