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An Interview with an MP

In the midst of Pride Month, which traditionally falls in June, the National LGBTI Consortium had the opportunity to speak with Dmytro Gurin, an MP from the “Servant of the People” party, whose progressive views often spark heated discussions both within the walls, corridors and lobbies of the Verkhovna Rada and beyond.

From fierce debates on human rights for LGBTIQ+ to revolutionary ideas in medicine – Gurin lays his political cards on the table and shares his vision for the future.

Fierce Battles within Parliament Walls

It would seem a simple idea: equal rights for all people living in Ukraine. But in the reality of the Ukrainian parliament, implementing this idea turns into a real battle.

“A simple idea that all citizens of Ukraine should have equal rights,” is how Gurin explains his motivation to support LGBTIQ+. However, realising this simple idea proves to be an extremely challenging task within the walls of the Verkhovna Rada.

The MP speaks candidly about the obstacles faced by progressive bills:

“Bill 9103 on civil partnerships, initiated by Inna Sovsun, of which I am one of the 18 signatories, has ‘run into’ the parliamentary committee on legal policy. Knowing parliament, I can say that the majority in the committee are homophobically inclined colleagues — and therefore the bill cannot make it to the floor for a vote even in the first reading. After all, without a positive verdict from the committee, the bill will have virtually no chance. Bill 9103 has found itself in a stalemate, and this is due to as yet unresolved homophobia. What can we do about this? Work with fellow MPs, tirelessly demonstrating again and again the vital need for recognising civil partnerships — both for the military and for those who remain in the civilian sector. I am confident that both people and views are progressing. It’s just a matter of time needed for change.”

As previously noted by Sviatoslav Sheremet, an expert from the National LGBTI Consortium, the adoption of this bill has been a subject of communication between Ukraine and the European Union, represented by the European Commission, since 2022 on the track of negotiations for our EU membership.

LGBTIQ+: From Stigma to Hope for Demographic Salvation

While opponents see LGBTIQ+ communities as a threat, Gurin offers an unexpected perspective — he sees LGBTIQ+ as a potential salvation for Ukraine’s demographic situation.

“I support adoption for same-sex couples. This is a well-researched topic globally, nothing terrible happens as a result, except that children in these families are more tolerant. I have gay friends with children, they are loving parents and beloved children, a happy family.”

This position aligns with the current demographic challenges facing Ukraine. As noted in the analysis of government plans for 2024, the right to have a child and raise it is a natural right of any person, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, the current regulation of access to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in Ukraine remains discriminatory: neither single men (unlike single women) nor same-sex partnerships have access to ART. Nevertheless, we can cautiously predict when changes might begin: in the Government’s Priority Action Plan for 2024, approved on 16 February this year by a Cabinet of Ministers decree, there is a step called “development of a draft law on assisted reproductive technologies”. The Ministry of Health is responsible for drafting the bill, with a deadline in June, but something tells us this deadline will not be met, although there is a broad demand in society for assisted reproductive technologies, especially in wartime conditions. So this year, we should still hope for progress.

Politics 2.0: Hate Becomes Commonplace

Dmytro acknowledges that his open support for human rights for LGBTIQ+ and other liberal values sometimes provokes negative reactions. But instead of hiding behind parliamentary immunity, he meets these attacks with philosophical calm:

“I do things I believe in. I’m regularly hated on social media, but I don’t pay attention to it, I clearly don’t represent those people.”

Despite criticism, the MP remains optimistic about support for progressive ideas among Ukrainians:

“I think when it comes to people personally, most Ukrainians are still in favour of personal freedoms; we are a nation of free people. So I believe that maximum freedoms and equal rights are what the people of Ukraine want, and that’s why I believe I’m doing the right thing.”

It’s important to note that Gurin’s position aligns with international trends and expectations of Ukraine’s strategic partners. According to the National LGBTI Consortium, the recent US State Department report on human rights in Ukraine clearly links further support for our country with progress in human rights, including human rights for LGBTIQ+. Legislative initiatives aimed at civil equality for LGBTIQ+ and combating discrimination are important not only for Ukraine’s domestic policy but also for our international image and support for Ukraine from abroad.

Innovative Approaches to Healthcare

Gurin is also known for his support of legalising the use of certain psychoactive substances for medical purposes. Dmytro Gurin’s specialisation in parliament is health issues, as the MP is a member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Health, Medical Care and Medical Insurance. He explains:

“The only truly effective treatment protocol for PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorders, – ed.] is MDMA-assisted therapy. Cannabis somewhat reduces PTSD symptoms, while MDMA-assisted therapy treats it.”

And these aren’t just theories. Gurin reveals plans for legislative changes:

“Today, such treatment is prohibited in Ukraine, a package of amendments to Cabinet of Ministers resolutions is being prepared that will first allow research on currently prohibited substances from the so-called first list of narcotic drugs, and then their use for medical purposes.”

Gurin sees great potential in psychedelics:

“Psychedelics have a great future. LSD is used for anxiety disorders and effectively reduces symptoms after just one use. Psilocybins are being researched for treating schizophrenia. We’re interested in six key substances — MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, DMT, ibogaine and ketamine, which is already permitted for research and medical practice and is already used to treat depressive disorders.”

He emphasises: “The main thing to understand is that some prohibited narcotic substances are actually medicines that we’re now learning to use. Treatment is effective when the use of the drug is accompanied by psychotherapy.”

This position of Gurin aligns with the recent adoption of the law on medical cannabis in Ukraine. Experts see potential in this step for further progressive reforms, particularly in the field of human rights for LGBTIQ+. After all, both innovations – on medical cannabis and civil partnerships – are part of a large liberal package from a political philosophy perspective, and the source of the liberal package is societal demand multiplied by the European integration context.

Ukraine-2040: A View Through the Temporal Prism

When Gurin talks about Ukraine’s future, it seems as if he’s looking through a crystal ball. His vision for 2040 is a mix of optimism and realism:

“It will be a country still licking its wounds amidst a major economic leap. We’ll have grown accustomed to migrants, our society will be much more diverse. Ukrainians will live longer and fall ill less, the environment will have improved significantly.”

Regarding LGBTIQ+ rights, he predicts:

“Same-sex couples will be adopting and having children.”

Behind the Scenes of Politics: Burnout — The New Reality

Gurin speaks candidly about professional burnout among parliamentarians:

“Yes, almost all parliamentarians have burned out. These five years in parliament have been the hardest five years of my life; I’ve never had such an intense and, most importantly, nerve-wracking job.”

The MP shares his methods for combating burnout:

“I cope like everyone else. I don’t think I can reveal any secrets: sleep, friends, fresh air, supportive anti-anxiety therapy.”

***

You’ve read an interview with MP Dmytro Gurin, which demonstrates the complex path of promoting progressive ideas in the Ukrainian parliament. His vision of Ukraine’s future as an open, tolerant and innovative country faces real challenges of today.

However, as recent progress in the legalisation of medical cannabis and effective efforts to pass legislation against hate speech show, Ukraine is gradually moving towards greater inclusivity and equal rights for all citizens.

Despite obstacles, Gurin and like-minded individuals continue to fight for progressive reforms, convinced that their efforts will contribute to shaping a fairer and more open society.

This struggle reflects a broader, deeper process of transformation in Ukraine, where a traditionalist, ossified worldview clashes with new ideas, and this transformation is our path to European integration and social progress.

For our part, on behalf of the editorial team, we wish MP Dmytro Gurin and his like-minded colleagues inspiration, inner resources and endurance to successfully and positively complete the marathon of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the 9th convocation, elected by us back in 2019.

Sources:

  1. The public calls on the authorities to adopt draft law No. 5488 on non-discrimination as soon as possible
  2. Demographic strategy and small steps for LGBTIQ+: reading between the lines of the government’s plans for 2024
  3. Signal from the US State Department: support for Ukraine is directly linked to progress in human rights
  4. Ukraine has passed a law on medical cannabis: what you need to know and what does LGBT+ have to do with it?

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