Ukrainian Orthodox Church strips award from gay soldier due to 'sinful ideology'

A Ukrainian serviceman takes a selfie before the Christmas service in the Assumption Cathedral of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra on January 7, 2023, amid the Russian Invasion of Ukraine.
A Ukrainian serviceman takes a selfie before the Christmas service in the Assumption Cathedral of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra on January 7, 2023, amid the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. | Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has revoked an award given to a gay Ukrainian combat medic and soldier celebrating his military combat service over his propagation of "sinful ideology" and denial of God's existence.

In a statement this week, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church — Kyiv Patriarchate confirmed that it had revoked the church award given to Viktor Pylypenko, honoring his sacrifice and love of Ukraine on Feb. 8.

"We thank warrior Victor Pilipenko (as well as all our defenders for defending our liberty and territorial integrity) for his military service, but we do not divide his sinful likeness and LGBT agitation," the statement reads.

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"We inform that due to open propaganda of sinful ideology and the denial of the existence of God, consider the church award to Victor Pilipenko from 08.02.2024 Order no. 27468 — revoked."

Pylypenko served in the battle to fight off Russia's invasion, which began about two years ago. The church said that Pylypenko was submitted for the award by "his fellow soldiers from the combat unit of the heroic 72nd Brigade of the Black Zaporozhye." Pylypenko founded a charity called LGBT+ Military, advocating for and supporting LGBT soldiers and veterans.

"Soldier Victor Pilipenko received a thank you from the Church, exclusively as a defender of Ukraine, not as an LGBT activist," the statement stressed. "Patriarch Filaret did not personally award the Pilipenkoví medal and did not know about his sinful tendencies."

Although the UOC has historic ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, it severed its ties with the Moscow Patriarchate in 2022 in opposition to the Russian invasion. 

Pylypenko responded to the revocation in a Facebook post.

"Unfortunately, the Insight trial on Mr. Filaret's homophobic statements lasted just in the days when our unit was going through one of the hardest phases of fighting in Donetsk, where I could have been killed and Patriarch Filaret probably wouldn't have known further that he had said such irrational things about me and people like me," he wrote.

"At that time many members of our community were killed, wounded, captured, fighting across the front lines in different units."

Pylypenko told Politico that despite the removal of his award recognition, many of his fellow soldiers have defended him in this ordeal. 

"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," Pylypenko said.

"And suddenly I saw the number of bright people I respect, soldiers who supported and protected me — it was indescribably joyful."

Nicole VanDyke is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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