The amplification of controversies on social media surrounding women and LGBTQI+ is becoming more of an indication of pro-Russian views

The attention of Ukrainian society to issues related to women and the LGBTQI+ community in the context of armed conflict reflects their social significance. However, pro-Russian authors use LGBTQI+ topics as a tool to sensationalize the conflict, ignoring women’s rights. This may indicate the manipulative nature of some media sources. This is evidenced by the research of the NGO ‘CAT-UA: Communication Analysis Team – Ukraine’

After the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukrainian users are increasingly reacting to information related to the protection of women’s and LGBTQI+ rights, which directly concern them. They engage in discussions with human rights activists, advocates of ‘traditional values,’ and supporters of Russia, focusing on LGBTQI+ rights. While focusing on issues relevant to the majority of society, such as the rights of military personnel’s parents, indicates social unity, it may reduce the visibility of minority population groups.

The analysis of issues highlighting LGBTQI+ individuals in the military discussion emphasizes their visibility and legal recognition of partnerships. L. Kosmachevska’s post about marrying a representative of the LGBTQI+ community to protect his rights on the front lines reflects this ongoing discussion. Prominent resources consistently advocating for LGBTQI+ rights on social media include communities like KyivPride, Military LGBTQI+, and Gender in Detail. Authors in these communities emphasize that the contributions of LGBTQI+ individuals, especially those serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, are downplayed by society.

Pro-Russian resources focus on using LGBTQI+ issues to highlight Ukraine’s tolerant image in the West and attempt to argue that members of this community are incapable of serving in the army. Amidst the war, there are opinions that LGBTQI+ issues are not relevant to Ukrainians, leading to sharp differences in public opinion. It is also worth noting that the LGBTQI+ community faces homophobia in Ukrainian society, as highlighted by public figures such as O. Arestovych and R. Martysnkiv.

The discussion about civil partnerships and LGBTQI+ rights also illustrates societal polarization on LGBTQI+ issues. Posts from supporters of ‘traditional values’ receive more than half of the coverage in LGBTQI+ topics in the ZSU ranks and over a quarter of the discussion on civil partnerships. Traditionalists’ views are reinforced by pro-Russian social media users, indicating that non-acceptance of LGBTQI+ remains a factor that Russian propaganda continues to exploit to divide Ukrainian society.

The discussion of women and LGBTQI+ individuals during the war is important for Ukrainian society. Currently, it contributes to increased support for the families of servicemen and demands for fair punishment for those committing violence against women and LGBTQI+, as well as understanding the issues and reducing negative attitudes towards LGBTQI+.

Key findings from the study:

  • The contemporary discussion of topics related to women and LGBTQI+ individuals during the war in Ukraine is characterized by certain dynamics and societal approaches to these issues. Analyzing the research findings, several key points can be highlighted:
  • There is significant societal attention to topics related to women and the LGBTQI+ community, based on their relevance and importance. It is important to note that this is justified by engaging discussion rather than artificial sensationalism. This approach helps maintain a healthy discussion atmosphere and attracts more attention to these issues.
  • Relatives of military personnel have shown that they can cope in life and are much more concerned about separation or dangers to their loved ones in the military than about financial difficulties. Women whose relatives serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine rarely complain about ‘having no one to earn money’ or ‘not having anyone to fix a shelf.’ Emotional needs such as overcoming separation from different fighters, liberating them from captivity, maintaining long-distance relationships, and raising children are at the forefront. At the same time, there is no shortage of powerful reasons to be proud of such relatives.
  • The language of hostility is also characteristic of topics related to LGBTQI+. While in topics concerning women, no hostility is observed. This may indicate an existing socio-cultural stereotype regarding the female role and position in society.
  • The fundamentalist-traditionalist worldview actively participates in discussions related to LGBTQI+. Liberally inclined members of society are more inclined to engage in dialogue about human rights and justice, rather than emotional aspects.
  • In Ukraine, a diverse pool of liberal speakers has emerged, capable of leading discussions on human rights issues. There is a changing attitude in society towards women in the military. This may indicate a growing readiness of society to perceive women as equal participants in military actions.
  • In the context of Russian propaganda, topics related to the LGBTQI+ community are largely viewed as a propaganda mechanism. Pro-Russian authors focus their attention on these topics, but they show no interest in women’s rights, serving only as a transmission of propaganda, limited to declarative statements and emotional discussions.
  • Unlike topics related to LGBTQI+, where the discussion of their contribution to military actions has not yet conveyed full information to society, the attitude towards women in the Armed Forces of Ukraine is developing more positively and is actively discussed.

The study was conducted with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Transformation Communications Activity project, implemented by the main contractor Chemonics International Inc. To familiarize yourself with it, you can contact the client at