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Ukraine war brings a push for LGBTQ+ rights, but will it last?

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When Kira learned that her partner Elvira Shchemur had died in a missile strike on Ukraine, the loss hit her doubly hard. Even as she mourned, Kira knew that as a same-sex partner she had no rights to collect Shchemur’s body. “Officially, I am no one to her,” said Kira, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym due to fears of her employment being affected.

Activists and rights researchers say Russia’s invasion has bolstered support in Ukraine for LGBTQ+ people, many of whom have proudly worn a unicorn insignia to signal their identity while fighting in the military.

Others question how far the push will go in bringing rights such as same-sex marriage – and whether the change of attitudes will last. “Often societies make changes during war that are not followed through on after the wartime period ends,” said Julia Schiwal, an expert on inclusive societies at the United States Institute of Peace.

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