Ukrainian veterans protest after church withdrawals gay soldier’s medal

Author: Trudy Ring

Ukrainian soldiers are protesting after the Orthodox Church withdrew a medal from a service member because he’s gay.

Viktor Pylypenko, a medic who’s served in Ukraine’s effort to turn back Russia’s invasion, had received a medal from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv for “sacrifice and love to Ukraine,” along with other members of his division’s medical corps. He posted on Facebook that he was grateful for the medal.

“I also deliberately assumed that the church has changed its attitude towards LGBT, since it rewards an openly gay activist for protection — in theory, I thought, this is a sharp reversal of the church to humanity, a noble road map to all other denominations to reconciliation, or … just a mistake,” Pylypenko told Politico’s European edition.

But a church leader, Patriarch Filaret, quickly asserted that the denomination still considers homosexuality a sin and withdrew the medal from Pylypenko. The church issued a statement claiming that Pylypenko had “posted false information about Patriarch Filaret awarding him a distinction as openly gay for human rights and that Patriarch Filaret and the Kyiv Patriarchate radically changed their negative position on LGBT. This is an outright lie and manipulation.”

“We thank the soldier for his military merits, but we do not share his sinful preferences and LGBT agitation,” the statement continued.

Since the news came out, dozens of soldiers have disavowed the medal and posted social media statements in support of Pylypenko. “I don’t need an award from an institution that completely does not understand what it means to completely give up one’s life and, in anticipation of death, defend oneself, my people and my liberty,” Yulia Mykytenko wrote on Facebook. “God is love. And from you love is not,” she continued, referring to the church. “Neither love, nor dignity, nor courage.”

Pylypenko was moved by the actions of his fellow Ukrainians. “I received a wave of solidarity with tears in my eyes — because I was already exhausted by years of constant attacks by various right-wing radicals and clerics — day after day when you hear this, no matter how strong you are, it cuts you down,” he told Politico. “And suddenly I saw the number of bright people I respect, soldiers who supported and protected me — it was indescribably joyful.”

Pictured, from left: Viktor Pylypenko and Patriarch Filaret

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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