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“Love Against Homosexuality”: Ruslan Kukharchuk on sex and politics

The face of anti-GLBT activism in Ukraine is not necessarily what you’d expect it to be. In my case, I expected something resembling a bearded preacher with a fiery stare and little gobs of spit forming around the mouth. Yet journalist Ruslan Kukharchuk, the founder of the organization Love Against Homosexuality, is attractive, educated and well-spoken – and quite possibly one of the biggest enemies of gay rights in Eastern Europe.

Sitting down with this fierce ideological opponent (I should get this out of the way quickly – I am diametrically opposed to Kukharchuk’s views), I was struck by what an enormous, uphill battle sexual minorities face in Ukraine today.

Natalia: So tell me about your organization – you’re the founder, right?

Ruslan: Yes. It started in 2003. It wasn’t really an organization then. I found out that a lesbian parade was going to be organized in downtown Kiev, and sprung into action. We only had 10 days to act, but we made them count. The local authorities eventually, as they put it, “discouraged” the parade from taking place. On the day of the parade, we passed out anti-gay fliers. I guess the lesbians also had some kind of tent. From then on, it became a tradition for us, protesting homosexual propaganda in the streets of Kyiv. We have what we call “Family Carnivals,” we just had one this past Saturday. In 2006, we gained legal status. In 2009, we nationalized.

Natalia: The word “God” crops up quite a bit in your promotional materials. Are you a religious organization?

Ruslan: We’re a social organization. Of course, all of the world’s religions protest homosexuality, but our arguments go further than that. We want to reach people who are not necessarily religious, and we want to reach them with this message: deviance is bad for national security.

Natalia: National security?

Ruslan: Of course. First of all, the homosexual lifestyle spreads AIDS. Second of all, it contributes to the demographic crisis in Europe. Third of all, it undermines the family, and families, traditional families, form the basis of any nation. Without family, a nation ceases to exist.

Natalia: I haven’t noticed gay-friendly nations ceasing to exist yet, but I have noticed in one of your brochures the following statement: “Homosexuality interferes with personal development.” Would you like to explain what you mean by that?

Ruslan: There is this prevailing myth in our society – “gays are talented,” but homosexuals are more depressed and suicidal, actually. They can’t reach their full potential.

Natalia: Well, wouldn’t that be because…

Ruslan: Because they’re oppressed? No. That’s the argument many people use, but it’s wrong. These people just have a hard time living with themselves. Look, I believe that sexual deviance is a mental illness. There are many factors responsible. It’s a condition that people have. This is why our organization is 100% opposed to violence. These people need help, they don’t need to be beaten up.

Love against HomosexualityNatalia: Speaking of violence, you don’t suppose that your rhetoric actually fuels it?

Ruslan: No. Violence is real, but I think it’s mostly caused by individual circumstances. It’s very much a politicized issue, so it can be hard to tell. That’s not true in every case, I understand that. There was a case in Israel recently, a gunman attacking a gay center. Obviously, we know what his motivation was. Though I don’t think propaganda of their lifestyle helps gays stay safe.

Natalia: And what do you think about gay honour killings? When families kill their kids if they are outed?

Ruslan: I understand that’s a problem in the Muslim world. I’m not an imam, so I can’t really comment. But our organization believes that homosexuality is caused by many factors. So if your child is gay, your question should be – “What have I done to contribute to this situation?” It shouldn’t be – “What’s the best way to kill this child?”

Natalia: You’ve spoken about challenging so-called “gay propaganda” in court. What Ukrainian laws actually support your position?

Ruslan: Well, our family codex is quite good, actually. It defines marriage as something between a man and wife. Of course, that can change, and we don’t want to let that happen. It’s like – you should know about this – when the American Psychological Association decided that it wasn’t going to list homosexuality as a mental condition anymore. Why did they decide that? What’s next? “Schizophrenia has become so widespread, we can’t call it a bad thing anymore either?”

Natalia: And are you also personally opposed to other non-traditional lifestyles? It’s a big world out there, many freaky people, doing freaky things.

Ruslan: I’m an Evangelical Christian, but I’m not necessarily against people who go against the grain. I don’t care if someone is emo, for example. I hate it when people like me are painted as total conformists. I look at emo boys, I say, “they’ll grow out of it.”

Of course, I oppose adultery and lust and sin in general. I’m not telling people what to do in their bedrooms, mind you. I don’t even care what gays do in their bedrooms. People do whatever they need to do. I might think it’s a sin, but that’s not the issue. The issue is when they impose a dictatorship of their ideas.

Natalia: Dictatorship?

Ruslan: Read the news. Everywhere you look in the West, somebody’s getting disgraced because they said something against gays. Well, excuse me, it shouldn’t work like that. I should be able to say whatever I want. It’s how democracy should work.

Natalia: The counter-argument to that, of course, is the entire idea of minority rights and how society is fundamentally stacked against certain people from the outset, resulting in inequalities that must be corrected somehow.

Ruslan: Rights? Look, there is such a thing as natural rights. For example, let’s say I’m black. Someone discriminates against me, that is not OK. But what does a deviant sexual lifestyle have to do with natural rights? Nothing. And I should remind you that we’re on a slippery slope here. Two hundred years ago, the very idea of a lesbian parade in this city would have been unthinkable. Now suddenly people have this idea? So what will happen tomorrow? A parade of zoophiles?

Natalia: Two hundred years ago, most people also thought that slavery was pretty great.

Ruslan: Well, I’m not saying that history is singular. That’s not what I mean. Society doesn’t move in one direction, it’s more complicated than that. I just look at the statistics to determine what is going on, what’s good and what’s bad. Did you know that gays, proportionately, have a higher rate of pedophilia among their ranks?

Natalia: Is that statistic quoted from an independent source?

Ruslan: We take all of our statistics from this Russian website. They translate a lot of studies, which are independent. I’m wouldn’t play fast and loose with numbers anyway, that will only be used against our organization later.

"Homosexuality = AIDS" March in downtown Kyiv. Photo: Vladimir Antonov
"Homosexuality = AIDS" March in downtown Kyiv. Photo: Vladimir Antonov

Natalia: So you and I have been sitting here and discussing so-called deviance, and I’m curious, what do you make of straight men who get turned on by the sight of two attractive women kissing?

Ruslan: [laughs] Attractive lesbians are a myth. Men have been brainwashed by porn and glossy magazine covers into believing otherwise. But it’s not real.

Natalia: All of these men. So turned on by ladies making out. Where do you think that impulse comes from?

Ruslan: I’m telling you, it’s from brainwashing.

Natalia: So it’s a totally modern phenomenon, in your understanding.

Ruslan: Totally.

Natalia: Are you against “sexual deviance” when it crops up in, say, a relationship between a married, heterosexual couple? I mean, you have this equation in your brochure: a man plus and woman equals a family with kids, but not all sex out there is procreative.

Ruslan: Honestly, I think married couples should do whatever they want, as long as both parties consent. There is this misconception, as if the church actually can advise people on positions during sex or something like that. Well, it can’t. I guess we keep coming back to this point: people are going to do whatever they want, behind closed doors. It’s when you begin to advertise it that the trouble starts.

Natalia: I’d like to ask you about the upcoming Ukrainian election. Any favourite candidates?

Ruslan: I’m a public person, the face of our organization, so I’m not naming names. I will tell you this, though, the things that divide Ukraine right now? They need to be put to rest. There are five issues: NATO, EU, relations with Russia and Russian as a second state language, competing religious confessions, and the fight over the legacy of WWII, and we need a moratorium on all of them. We can’t fix up the country if the country is torn apart.

Natalia: You know, it’s interesting that you should say that. Have you ever heard the English expression – “let’s agree to disagree”? Perhaps your organization might benefit from it.

Ruslan: [laughs] It’s a good expression, I must remember it for later use.


Natalia Antonova

Natalia is a writer and journalist. She's the associate editor of openDemocracy Russia and the co-founder of the Anti-Nihilist Institute.

10 thoughts on ““Love Against Homosexuality”: Ruslan Kukharchuk on sex and politics

  1. I cannot believe that the man is serious about what he saying. This is hatred pure and simple and not amount of justifying it could make it anything different. I wonder how these people sleep at night.

  2. What a mean-spirited man. All the more mean-spirited because he cloaks it in rhetoric. You did give him a pretty good grilling though.

  3. Same as it ever was. Good to know he wouldn’t play fast and loose with numbers, anyway; obviously everything else he’s saying is 100% verifiable and backed by solid evidence.

    But yeah, obviously being targeted as “deviant” has -nothing to do with- peoples’ mental health. And, way to suggest it’s regrettable about that Israeli gunman but really Teh Gay shouldn’t have been wearing that short skirt. I mean, you go around acting like you’re as good as anyone else, what do you expect?

    Hey, Thingie, let us know, will you, when you and yours get mowed down by guns or beaten in the streets for your “beliefs,” all right? But yes, I realize how constrained you must feel for not being able to be as blunt as you like in your hate even here. Two hundred years ago you’d -never- have had to give lip service to “oh yeah, violence against Those People is bad” and “whatever they do in their bedroom is okay as long as they lock the doors and close the blinds and smile cheerfully in public whenever their “friends” and family go on about how loathsome “those people are” and say when -are- you bringing home a Nice Boy/Girl anyway? Or, for that matter, that discrimination against blacks is “clearly wrong.”

    Life is rough, innit mate.

  4. Someone as biased as you are should not have done this interview, because you didn’t give his views a fair chance. But that’s the way it always is in the media and you’re no different from anyone.

  5. Dina,

    I think you miss a couple important points:

    1. He was given ample opportunity to speak his mind.

    2. Not all views deserve a “fair chance.” I absolutely support his right to express his disgusting opinions, but that does not mean I, or anyone else, has a duty to take them seriously.

    Quite the opposite, in fact. Kukharchuk is a thug who foments violence against his fellow citizens. To ignore this in the interest of some metaphysical notion of ideological “fairness” is ludicrous*.

    *The adjective, not the rapper.



  6. What a ranting, self-righteous a-hole! I don’t know whether to laugh at his stupidity or just shake my head in disgust. I would gladly tear his comments to pieces, but there’s just too much material to address and too little time to spend on the internet today.

  7. I think this was incredibly non-biased for someone who obviously had different opinions to the person they were speaking to. Many areas where you could have shot down his opinion, or shown the hypocracy in his ideas, you decided to move on to the other questions you had and let what he says speak for itself. No leading questions, just a non-bias interview giving some of the main arguments against his line of thinking so that he can comment on them as well. Don’t get me wrong, if people ignored protesters who wanted gay rights, we’d still be chemically castrated or in prison, so i believe completely in free speach and listening to people’s opinions no matter how contrary to our own they may be, but to call fliers at a gay pride march propaganda is beyond believeable! That’s like saying that writing the prices of alcohol inside a pub is inciting alcoholism. Why would you be in the pub unless you wanted a drink? metaphorically speaking.

  8. When it comes to subjects like homosexuality etc it is important to note that there is a different between expressing your opinion about a matter and judging others. It seems to me that people tend to think these two things are inseparable. As soon as someone say they are against homosexuality, because it is not building the society, because it is about spreading HIV and so on, because the Word of God (the bible) says it is sinful etc, the reactions from those who “support this” is negative and judgemental. I am against homosexuality, but I AM NOT JUDGING! I am totally against judging. No matter who we are talking about, wether it is an alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict or whatever – Do not judge! I will be the first to defend someone who is being judged by others. It is unfair to judge. The bible says: Do not judge, and you shall not be judged (what you sow you shall reap) Forgive, and you shall be forgiven by your Father in heaven. The very minute you judge someone, you exalt yourself above that person, which in reality means you are very small. Those who exalt themselves above others, shall be humbled. Those who humble themselves shall be exalted above all others. To those supporters of Homosexuality: I think what provokes you is the expectation that this is judgementalism. And to protest against this you are judging back…. Isn´t that ironic, don´t you think???

  9. It is sad to see that ignorance is alive and well in the Ukraine. It is an oxymoron to have the word “love” in the title of a movement that underscores fear, which as we know is the opposite of love.

  10. So instead of asking the Ukraine’s National Security Advisor what threatens the Ukraine you ask some idiot who can’t maintain a logical argument? Give these morons an education before you interview them or interview someone who has something beneficial to society instead of Nazi propaganda.

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