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Anti-gender movements in Georgia and Ukraine: political homophobia and a ‘clash of values’ in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

February 14 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Room P30 (119 rue du marais, Préfecture building, 3rd floor)


With Maryna Shevtsova (KULeuven)

Discussants: Alexandra Ana (ULB) & Laura Luciani (UGent)




By the second decade of the twenty-first century, the centrality of LGBTIQ rights to the so-called ‘European values’ is globally recognized. Nevertheless, many local actors in the EU and third countries do not see it as something positive. Some legal advancement or even a promise of such was met across the EU and its neighborhood by the rise of the so-called anti-gender movements, a growing coalition of conservative and religious forces, spreading hateful discourses to wedge public opinion, often targeting LGBTIQ people. The present talk will focus on the case of such movements and actors in the EU neighborhood, namely, in Georgia and Ukraine.  Since 2014, Russia’s war on Ukraine has transformed into a rhetorical battlefield between Russia and the imaginary West. It is no longer merely viewed as a geopolitical power struggle in the region but as a clash of fundamental values. The Western standpoint advocates for liberal ideals, highlighting LGBTQ rights and gender equality. Conversely, Russia positions itself as a defender of what it labels as ‘traditional family values’ and Orthodox Christian morals. This talk will focus on how this narrative, initially shaped and disseminated by Russia, has now permeated both sides. While there are apparent benefits from the mutual adoption of this discourse, such as creating political opportunities for LGBTQ and women’s rights activists in Ukraine (as well as in Moldova and Georgia) to advocate for more progressive legislation on sexual and gender equality, there is also a concern that too much emphasis on this specific discourse may overshadow or neglect the intricate dynamics at play.


February 14
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm