When openly gay soldier Alex Fischuk prepared to defend Ukraine against Russia’s forces in February, he feared not only for his own life but also that of his partner, who was also in the army.
As an LGBTQ+ couple in a nation where same-sex relationships are not recognised, the 23-year-old worried about what would happen if his boyfriend was injured or killed in combat. “If our (partner) dies … we won’t be allowed even to bury (them) … they might not let us into the hospital,” said Fischuk, a cadet specialising in air reconnaissance.
So when separate Russian airstrikes hit their respective units in early March, killing a number of soldiers, Fischuk decided it was time to take their relationship forward. “It was very scary.
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