How Russia’s War Against Ukraine Is Advancing LGBTQ Rights

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has galvanized Ukrainian society in many unexpected ways, but perhaps one of the most remarkable is how it has advanced the rights of LGBTQ people. 

On Tuesday, in a move that would have been nearly unthinkable a year ago, a Ukrainian lawmaker introduced legislation in the country’s parliament that would give partnership rights to same-sex couples. This legislation, along with a prohibition against anti-LGBTQ hate speech abruptly adopted in December, reflects a sharp rejection of Russia’s effort to weaponize homophobia in support of its invasion. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said repeatedly that he attacked Ukraine last year partly to protect “traditional values” against the West’s “false values” that are “contrary to human nature” — code for LGBTQ people. Perhaps he hoped this would rally conservative Ukrainians to Russia’s side — it’s a tactic Kremlin allies have tried repeatedly over the past decade. But this time, it instead appears to be convincing a growing number of Ukrainians to support equality and reject the values Putin espouses.


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