Being Queer in Putin's Shadow

Queer Russians face uncertain futures in Georgia

Being Queer in Putin's Shadow Paired with the conscription of young men to Ukraine, Putin’s increasingly oppressive anti-LGBT policies have forced over a million Russians to flee to Georgia. But the religious and conservative society of Georgia presents its own problems, and Russia's queer refugees continue to feel unsafe.
Nat is a non-binary trans Russian, who fled to Georgia at the onset of the war in Ukraine. But despite having left Russia’s oppressive system, Nat still feels unwelcome due to being both queer and Russian. They say, “it makes me question whether I should stay here, but it doesn't make me question whether I should go back to Russia.” Georgia sits between East and West and aspires to EU membership, but it is torn between Western liberal values and the more traditionalist values that align the nation with Russia. In 2013, a pro-LGBT demonstration was met with violence from a mob that reached tens of thousands of people. The attack was even condoned by the Orthodox church: “forget about no-violence. You’re obliged to be violent. For your home land. For your country” said one Orthodox priest. Dadu, who is gay and Georgian, feels the response of the government, torn between liberal and conservative values, has been disappointing and stagnant: “the biggest problem for us...queer people, is that our government, they are not doing anything at all.”

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