Video: Panel Discussion

Combining the (In)Compatible: Experiences of Believing Feminists and LGBT People in Ukraine


Recently, the German initiative #OutInChurch draw the public attention to the conflicts LGBTIQ*-people experience within their religious communities. From 2021 to 2022, the Workshop for the Academic Study of Religions in Kyjiv conducted a project about how LGBT people and feminists combine their religious identity with their gender identity in Ukraine. The country with a high percentage of religiosity is struggling with a LGBTIQ*-affirmative policy as the main churches – Orthodox and Catholic – remain hostile to non-heterosexual partnerships and the inclusion of LGBTIQ*- and feminist-friendly strategies in education and culture. With the Russian war, the relatedness of gender issues and religion also became a tool in fueling war propaganda.

Iryna Kaplan is a scholar of religion and explores the personal experience of modern Ukrainian believers (present or former) who self-identify as feminists and/or LGBT. When they experience some kind of “identity crisis” on a personal level, do they turn to their respective religious communities for help or do they prefer to withdraw from them, knowing that religious communities do not always tolerate feminists or LGBT people? What strategies do feminist and LGBT believers use to reconcile competing identities? Are religious communities in Ukraine open to feminist and/or LGBT believers or do they prefer to ignore and exclude them? These and other issues will be discussed in the presentation, which will also include a brief introduction on the religious and human rights situation in Ukraine.

Chair: Regina Elsner (ZOiS)