Is Russia’s Homophobia the Key to Ukraine’s Triumph?

Blog by Jonathan Bluvstein, Junior Associate

Less than a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church gave a sermon in which he proclaimed that one of the motives behind the invasion of Ukraine was to bring human salvation to the country from its recognition of pro-western ideas.[1] Patriarch Kirill has been the head of the Russian Orthodox church since 2009 and has a strong hand in the actions of President Putin, even referring to Putin’s Presidency as a “Miracle of God.”[2] During the Patriarchs sermon, he proclaimed that there is one true test to determine whether a country has strayed to the side of western-ideologies: gay pride parades.[3] At the time of Patriarch Kirill’s sermon, Ukraine had taken few steps to protect their LGBTQ citizens; the most notable being a 2015 law that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace.[4]

The Russian government proved Patriarch Kirill’s words to be true when in November 2022, Russia passed an amendment to its 2013 law banning the sharing of information, positive or neutral, of LGBTQ people or any displaying of non-heterosexual relationships to children.[5] The amendment expands the law to include adults and not just children, effectively banning all representation of queer relations in the country.[6]

Unfortunately for Russia, Patriarch Kirill’s sermon only helped Ukraine garner more support. In 2023, Ukraine took his words and used it as a guide to increase support for the country by introducing a bill that would create a same-sex civil union law.[7] The law would give same-sex partnerships legal status along with all the same rights and protections afforded to heterosexual couples.[8] The member of parliament (MP) who drafted the law, Inna Sovsun, shared that the support that the bill has been receiving from right leaning MP’s is unexpected.[9] Most notably is the support from MP Andrii Kozhemiakin, who is a conservative with a strong Christian belief.[10] In his speech announcing his support, the MP said, “Anything that our enemy hates … I will support. If it will never exist in Russia, it should exist and be supported here, to show them and signal to them that we are different. This law is like a smile towards Europe and a middle finger to Russia. So I support it.”[11]

Ukraine is in a unique position right now. The European court of human rights recently tried two cases, in which they found that both Russia and Ukraine have violated the human rights of their LGBTQ citizens by denying them the right to marry.[12] The key to Ukraine’s successes in continuing to garner support from its western allies may be its response to court’s decision in Maymulakhin and Markiv v. Ukraine.


[1] Delia Gallagher, Russian Orthodox Church Alleges Gay Pride Parades Were Part of The Reason for Ukraine War, CNN (Mar. 8, 2022, 7:42 AM),

[2] His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, General Biographic Data, The Russian Orthodox Church Department For External Church Relations (last visited Nov. 10, 2023, 4:20 PM),; Gleb Bryanski, Russian Patriarch Calls Putin Era “Miracle of God”, Thomson Reuters (Feb. 8, 2012, 3:16 PM),

[3] Delia Gallagher, supra note 1.

[4] Ukraine Passes Law Outlawing Discrimination Against Gay Workers, Euronews (Dec. 12, 2019, 10:08 AM),

[5] Russia: Expanded ‘Gay Propaganda’ Ban Progresses Toward Law, Human Rights Watch (Nov. 25, 2022 9:30 AM),

[6] Id.

[7] Emma Graham-Harrison & Artem Mazhulin, War Brings Urgency to Fight For LGBT Rights In Ukraine, The Guardian (Jun. 5, 2023 12:00 AM),

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Fedotova and Others v. Russia, App. No. 40792/10, ¶56 (July 13, 2021),[%22001-211016%22]%7D; Maymulakhin and Markiv v. Ukraine, App. No. 75135/14, ¶80 (Jan. 9, 2023),{%22itemid%22:[%22001-224984%22].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *