Russian Propaganda and Ukrainian Social Media Discussion of LGBTQ+ Rights

Exploring the impact of Russian propaganda on LGBTQ+ rights in Ukraine

human rights

InfoEpi Lab

Information Epidemiology Lab


September 17, 2023


A report from Detector Media delves into discussion of the LGBTQ+ community within the Ukrainian segment of social media. The report focuses on the intersection of Russian propaganda and evolving Ukrainian discourse on equality. Researchers reviewed 33,200 posts, spanning from March 23, 2023, to July 23, 2023, and this review formed the basis of the report.

Key Findings

  • Ukrainian Society’s Stance: Over the past few decades, the attitude of Ukrainian society towards LGBTQIA+ individuals has varied. However, recent years have shown a decline in societal homophobia, especially among the younger generation.
  • Russian Propaganda: Homophobia is a central theme in Russian propaganda, often used to justify aggression against Ukraine. Disinformation in some Eastern European countries includes rumors about Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s sexuality. Propaganda paints the West as promoting an “LGBT agenda” and portrays Russia as a protector of “traditional values.”
  • Ukrainian Discourse: While there has been a general societal decline in stigma, certain ultra-right and religiously conservative factions in Ukraine continue to spread disinformation against the LGBTQIA+ community. These groups make ideal targets for foreign influence and can be leveraged by the Kremlin to claim that an “LGBT agenda” has been forced upon Ukrainians.
  • Impact of Russian Propaganda: Russian propaganda frequently equates homosexuality with criminal acts and abuse of children. The United States has seen a rise in demonization and violent attacks on the LGBTQ+ community. The organic opposition to equal rights in Ukraine and the United States could be leveraged to erode further military aid to Ukraine.
  • Shifts in Ukrainian Society: There have been shifts in attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people in Ukraine. The country ratified the Istanbul Convention and has introduced a draft bill related to registered civil partnerships.


  • Influence of Propaganda: Both Ukrainian and pro-Russian groups aim to magnify opposition to equal rights and tolerance toward the LGBTQ+ community. Content frames the situation as one of “Western values” forced on Ukrainian society.
  • Shaping Public Opinion: Anti-LGBTQ+ organizations spread disinformation in an effort to shape public opinion of the community. The findings highlight the need for awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to counteract these false narratives.
  • Political Implications: The use of homophobia as a tool in propaganda can influence political decisions and international relations, especially concerning Ukraine’s alignment with European values. Russia reframes equal rights and tolerance as “Western values” induce the existence of LGBTQ+ communities.
  • Policy: Top Ukrainian officials have recently endorsed equal rights for LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • Potential for Disinformation: The spread of false narratives, especially those equating LGBTQIA+ communities with “Western” ideologies, could lead to further division in Ukrainian society. The content could also be used to erode support for Ukraine by stoking far-right groups in countries sending military aid to Ukraine.


Slyvenko, O., Pivtorak, O., Bidochko, L., Zinchenko, S., Siedin, O., Zadyraka, K., & Kryzhnia, M. (2023, September 13). Homophobia on Social Media: Straddling Russian Propaganda and Ukrainian Discourse on Values. Detector Media.


BibTeX citation:
  author = {InfoEpi Lab},
  publisher = {Information Epidemiology Lab},
  title = {Russian {Propaganda} and {Ukrainian} {Social} {Media}
    {Discussion} of {LGBTQ+} {Rights}},
  journal = {InfoEpi Lab},
  date = {2023-09-17},
  url = {},
  langid = {en}
For attribution, please cite this work as:
InfoEpi Lab. 2023. “Russian Propaganda and Ukrainian Social Media Discussion of LGBTQ+ Rights.” InfoEpi Lab, September.